Just a week ago, the future of long-vacant Marine Stadium looked sunnier than a winter day on South Beach. Leaders from Friends of the Marine Stadium and the Miami Boat Show gathered to proudly announce the gala fair would come to the decaying waterfront property in two years after a $121 million renovation. City approval for the project seemed all but a formality.
But that was before twin revelations cast serious doubt on the private company asking for a no-bid deal on the prime real estate. Earlier this week, that group, Expo-Miami, distanced itself from a co-founder with numerous business complaints.
Now this morning comes news that the firm's CFO recently filed for bankruptcy protection. Commissioners may scuttle their vote today in response.
The latest news comes from the Daily Business Review, which found that Federico Coupe — listed as Expo-Miami's vice president and CFO in state business records — had filed for bankruptcy on October 15.
Court files show Coupe claimed less than $50,000 in assets, but the businessman never filed a complete list of creditors and the case was dismissed in federal court earlier this month.
But civil court records also paint a picture of a guy with financial issues; the DBR reports that Bank of America says he defaulted on a $337,000 mortgage and that Ransom Everglades has sued him for $39,795 in tuition he owes for his child's middle school.
The news is the latest black eye for Expo-Miami, which had pledged to partner with another firm to handle $30 million worth of renovations on the 22-acre site. Just before Friends of Marine Stadium approved the current proposal last month, the group pressured Expo-Miami's co-founder — attorney Manuel Alonso-Poch — to step down from the group and erase his name from business records.
Alonso-Poch has a contentious business history that included serious complaints about conflicts of interest at his charter school, Coconut Grove's Academy of Arts & Minds; auditors investigated whether he'd improperly steered contracts to his own businesses.
City commissioners were scheduled to vote today on the proposal, but they may now table the discussion and look for a way to bring in the Boat Show and spark renovations without Expo-Miami as part of the deal, the Miami Herald reports.
Of course, doing so would require a new partner for those key $30 million in renovations. In the meantime, the future again looks uncertain for the iconic waterfront stadium.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.