Saturday, March 31, 2007

Miami's Shame: The Miami Marine Stadium Redux

A couple of days ago the first of four public meetings was held regarding proposals for Virginia Key where Miami's Shame can be found covered in graffiti and crumbling under the sun. Initial talk from City of Miami planners is to tear down the stadium and replace it with something far less than visionary: restaurants, boat repair/supply stores, or sandwich shops.

It really is enough to make you cry. In fact, it is an outrage. It looks like from the outset that saving the stadium was never in the cards. Where is the Mayor Manny Diaz of 2002 when he promised to restore the stadium? Mr. Mayor, if the only thing your city planners can come up with is sandwich shops and retail, you should fire them all for lack of vision. Hell, the Marine Stadium is just sitting there waiting to be fixed. It's not like you have to build it from scratch. It's very engineers Pancoast, Ferendino Spillis + Candela (since morphed into Spillis Candela DMJM) are headquartered in Coral Gables. Give them a call. Here's their phone number: 305-444-4691. See if they think it can be repaired at a reasonable price. The first report of roof damage following 1992's Hurricane Andrew supposes that the hairline cracks found on the cantilevered concrete roof (the largest such structure in the world in 1963-- and it still may be for all we know) may have been there BEFORE the hurricane and the implication was that the hurricane may have had no effect on the integrity of the construction.

Of course, that was then. Fifteen years have passed and nothing was done to repair the roof or to protect it from the ravages of white trash neglect. Yet it still stands much like the Roman aqueducts and Coliseum have for nearly 2,000 years. But the Romans had an excuse for not taking care of their public works projects: the Huns. What's Miami's? Despite concrete's fabled strength and endurance, we suspect that the modern introduction of rebar into it will accelerate the stadium's decline because once rebar comes into contact with salt air and water, it's basically over. We're sure this kind of negligence on behalf of the city only acerbated the problem. If the City decides to tear down the Miami Marine Stadium, some lawyer ought to sue the city for fiscal incompetence or some other kind of mal practice for not doing all it could to protect assets belonging to its citizens.

Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, whose district includes Virginia Key, is reported in the Miami Herald as complaining about being kept out of the planning loop prior to this week's first public meeting. Hopefully his umbrage will fire him up and he'll get behind saving the Miami Marine Stadium. Hopefully, he'll see its historical significance and want to preserve it. Yes, it might cost some money to repair but why not do as MVB suggested in our first post on this subject in September 2006. Why not consider seeking out a company that could fund the restoration in exchange for naming rights. Since the stadium was first conceived as an arena for hydroplane racing, why not approach the company that sponsored the most famous hydroplane racing team of all time: Miss Budweiser? In exchange for the millions that it will cost to make the repairs and remove the graffiti (and getting Miami placed back into one of the most important slots on the unlimited hydroplane racing circuit), the city would rename the stadium as the Budweiser Miami Marine Stadium.

If you feel the same way we do, please take time to let our Mayor and Commissioners know by E-Mailing them here.

Click here to see the "Masterplan for Virginia Key" and to post comments to the consulting firm.

Click here to email your thoughts to the City of Miami Planning Dept.

If by some wild chance you don't see things the way we do, please refrain from emailing the above. We went through a lot of work for this post what with adding the links and all and would hate to see someone use it against our cause. Instead, please go to our previous post and help Lexi battle breast cancer. Thank you.

UpDate (8/20/08): The third public meeting for the Virginia Key Master Plan will be held Tuesday, August 26, 2008. The latest design ideas will be presented by EDSA, the lead consultant.

When & WhereTuesday, August 26, 2008
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.Miami City Hall Chambers
3500 Pan American Drive

For more information on the Virginia Key Master Plan, please visit
UpDate (8/27): The "experts," AKA city planners/consultants, came back with the latest designs for Virginia Key. Despite an earlier charette where the public overwhelmingly agreed that the Marine Stadium should be saved, it is glaringly absent from this latest iteration. In its place: Two 5-story parking garages, a "dry-stack" boat storage for 700 boats, 41,000sf of "small scale retail," and Olympic-sized swimming pools among other sundry items. The city and its experts have effectively destroyed one of the few things that makes Miami unique in the world and replaced it with the pedestrian. The Marine Stadium was the only one of its kind on the planet. Now, because it might be "cost prohibitive" to fix-up, we have become a lesser city, less unique, and a people less worthy of being taken seriously, at being looked upon by others as blessed, lucky, special and cool.

UpDate (9/19/08): Friends of the Miami Marine Stadium pulled off a major coup: they got the World Monuments Fund to endorse saving the Marine Stadium. This couldn't have happened at a better time because The City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board will discuss and possibly make a determination of the final historic designation of the Miami Marine Stadium at their meeting on Tuesday, October 7, at 3:00 PM, City of Miami Commission Chambers. Failure to do so should make them look like idiots-- or at least suspiciously on the take. If you got the time, try to stop by to make your voice heard.

UpDate (10/7/08): The City of Miami historic preservation board finally saw the light: by a vote of 8-0, it agreed to designate the Miami Marine Stadium worthy of preservation as an historic site. Let's see the visionless try to knock it down now!

Go to "Labels" below for more postings on this subject.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this blog

There is a loose group called the Virginia Key Public Planning Coalition and we have a website that the public can examine for more information on the island. See
There are interviews with Mabel Miller and others and a documentary on the history of the Virginia Key Park Trust lands.

We are also looking for comments.

This issue is linked, in my mind, to the outrageous process followed by the city in relation to Bicentennial Park as well. Waterfront Parks should not be glumped up with non water related buildings. Bicentennial Park does not have to be seen as a done deal.

Greg Bush

Dayngr said...

I love that you take the time to save us the time of looking this stuff up. Talk about community involvement, kudos! You make it easy. I will speak out on this issue. Let's hope they listen.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sending this along. I sent it out to all my members and within ten minutes three of them responded back that they wrote emails to the Mayor and some to the councilmen as well. I’m positive others will do the same shortly.

Thanks again,

Taryn Baze

American Boat Racing Association

Verticus S. Erectus said...

Following is an email forwarded to me from Bill Osborne to Mayor Diaz. This gentleman wants to write a feature story about the Marine Stadium for Extreme Boats Magazine.

Mayor Manuel A. Diaz,

Seattle is a long way from Miami, but I am disheartened at the prospect of losing Miami’s Marine Stadium. As a photographer who visited this site almost every year the unlimited hydroplanes raced in Miami, I always looked forward to working from the stadium. It was a great place to race boats and gave the fans an opportunity to see the world’s fastest race boats up close and personal.

The stadium was built to attract world-class boating events in a setting, second to none. It was a unique feature which was pictured all over the world. Losing this icon would be very sad, because it was a one of a kind and identified Miami as a premier boating venue. The floating stage was a wonderful place to enjoy and concert with the skyline of your city in the background.

If the city of Miami and the state of Florida had a vision of what this place could be, wonderful things could happen here. The American Boat Racing Association would love to make Miami a regular stop on the unlimited hydroplane racing circuit. A revamped stadium would attract other racing classes as well. Other activities to bring in tourists and locals alike to region include concerts, boat shows, and countless other water-related activities.

It saddens me to see Miami tear this facility down and replace it with more retails shops that could survive almost anywhere. Miami is faced with a serious choice, one will affect the city forever. While financing is an issue, it seems that selling he naming rights to the stadium, along with a schedule that keeps it busy 20-30 weeks a year should be a viable proposition.

I would be willing to do whatever I can do to help make this happen. I would be willing to write a feature story for Extreme Boats Magazine profiling the stadium, its history and promising future as a world-class facility.


Bill Osborne

Connie said...

I am deeply saddened that this destruction of history appears that it will come to pass. Back in 2005 I heard talk and read an article in the Miami Herald. Never did I imagine there would be such disregard for history and architecture as it seems there is. I grew up going to the Unlimited Hydroplane Races at the Stadium and was very sorry when they stopped coming. I think the community could value from this stadium being restored to it's former glory and the return of boat racing and concerts. I hope the powers that be will listen, but more importantly I hope readers of this blog will give them plent to listen and respond to.

racen7 said...

Please do not let the Miami Marine Stadium die. This is a world class boat racing site. I want e mail address for all that I can contact to help stop this ASAP
Dennis Bowsher

amanda said...

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do what you can to get this site more attention. I happened on it by chance today after googling the stadium. Otherwise I wouldn't have known it existed.
In my 25 years growing up in this city I have always wished for the day that this stadium would open again. Now it looks like it will never happen. That is terrible.
Rumor has it that the Orange Bowl is set to be torn down as well. These are sad days for the city of Miami. Two of our most unique and historic structures are being knocked down for nothing more than cheesy retail shops and dirty boat yards.
Please do what you can to pass the word along to anyone that will listen. It really could be a wonderful thing for the city of Miami if they refurbish the stadium.
Remember to DO YOUR PART and email/call!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This whole extravaganza is saddening to me. This is more than a piece of property as the developers see it, it is a piece of Miami's history. Development is a positive thing, but not when it destroys one of the very thigns that makes Miami what it is. The Miami Marine Stadium cannot be destroyed, it must be preserved and brought back to its forum heyday of racing, music, and fun. I have been involved in boating and the marine industry my whole life and this is a piece of Miami and a piece of boating history in South Florida. My father used to participate in powerboat racing at the Stadium, it is a part of my history, and it must be preserved.

Joey Clawges
Sundance Marine

Verticus S. Erectus said...

Joey, please let your elected reps know how you feel by going to our home page and using their provided email links.

Anonymous said...

I already sent an email to the Miami Planning Department RE: Virginia Key Master Plan. Hopefully someone there is listening!

Verticus S. Erectus said...

Good! Now follow-up with our elected city and county reps. The Planning Dept can only recommend. The city and county commission has the final say. Hopefully enough positive feedback from the people will make them see the light.