The Miami Marine Stadium Needs You

I know we have all heard all kinds of news about the Miami Marine stadium and how a group of angels is going out of their way to save it. was recently invited by The National Trust for Historic Preservation, to tour and learn about the future of the Miami Marine Stadium.  So here’s what we learned and what you can do to help. (NOTE: You can now donate to the restoration efforts – go to the bottom of this article for link)

Miami Marine Stadium History

The Miami Marine Stadium was built in 1963 and designed by Cuban architect Hilario Candela. The engineer was Jack Meyers and designed it to last over 100 years. It was the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world when it was built. The structure was a one of a kind and was way ahead of its time.  We were fortunate to meet Candela during the tour and his passion for the space was more lively today than it was in the 60’s.  Hilario told us that the stadium has witnessed the change in the Miami Skyline, but most importantly, the stadium now had a story to tell and he was excited about “tomorrow.”

Candela who was enamored by Le Corbusier made the use of the space his inspiration.  He explained the structure was created with local materials (mostly concrete), as a sculptural piece where the user became part of the sculpture.  He created a special place where water and land came together with an open canopy for protection from the sun.  His goal was to unite the building’s program, locale, spectators and shows while creating a place people would value and connect to.

It was originally created as a venue for powerboat racing. With a floating stage, it would later host different events ranging from rock concerts, to boxing matches and even Sunday services. Throughout the years, the stadium adapted to the desires of the community and was run as an entertainment venue by The City of Miami.   When use of the stadium dropped off, like any other structure in our community, it seems that the city got tired of managing it and claimed Hurricane Andrew had damaged it.  It was declared an unsafe building under Miami-Dade County building code and shuttered by the City of Miami on September 18, 1992. The good news is that the engineering study came back negative to demolish it.  Although the structure has been closed ever since, there are a group of preservationists that have volunteered hours of their time to educated the public to help save The Miami Marine Stadium.

Some notable historic events :

  • Sammy Davis Jr. hugged Richard Nixon in 1972
  • Legendary 1985 Jimmy Buffett concert
  • 1967 Elvis Presley movie “Clambake” was filmed
  • Concerts:  Queen, The Beach Boys, Miami Philharmonic, Ray Charles….and more

Friends of The Miami Marine Stadium

Who exactly are these “Friends of The Miami Marine Stadium” and what are their goals?

On February 2008, Friends of Miami Marine Stadium (FMMS) was formed.  It was created as an all-volunteer organization to advocate for restoration of the Marine Stadium, under the administrative umbrella of the Dade Heritage Trust.  Since then, FMMS has provided over $600,000 to the cause and has never received nor requested funding from the City of Miami for its efforts.

The effort undertaken by FMMS is the first and only feasible plan in 20 years for restoration and operation of the property.

Hilario Candela, the original architect, is one of the notable volunteers, which is an honor and privilege as we can get direct information on the original concept from its creator.  Two other volunteers, present at our tour were architect Jorge Hernandez (who was one of my architecture professors at The University of Miami), and Donald Worth.  Here’s a photo of yours truly with Jorge Hernandez (on the left) and Hilario Candela.

The Miami Marine Stadium positive progress

FMMS secured historic designation by Miami’s Historic Preservation and Environmental Board. The stadium was also recognized as an architectural masterpiece by The National Trust for Historic Preservation and was added to the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered List in 2009.

In 2009, the Worlds Monuments Fund, the foremost organization worldwide devoted to the preservation of architectural and cultural sites, named the Marine Stadium to its 2010 Watch List, along with places such as Macchu Picchu, the historic center of Buenos Aires, the City of Old Jerusalem, and Gaudi’s Las Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

On April 6, 2010, Miami-Dade County Commissioners passed a resolution to allocate $3 Million to the stadium to start its historical preservation and return it as a venue for water sports and major concerts.

On July 22, 2010, the Miami City Commission approved the Virginia Key Master Plan, including the stadium.

In January 2012, Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority (MSEA), approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Resolution, the first step in the creation of a partnership between FMMS, MSEA and The Miami City Commission to restore the Marine Stadium.

In March 2012, the Miami City Commission approved the MOU.  Friends of Miami Marine Stadium must submit a business plan within six month and develop full funding within 2 years.

Watch this amazing video by Parkour Playhouse.

The Future of The Miami Marine Stadium

A new site plan for the Marine Stadium and surrounding areas has been created and needs to be approved by City Commission.  The plan was unanimously approved by the Blue Ribbon Marine Stadium Steering Committee which was appointed by the Miami City Manager.  The plan is to restore and bring building to 21st century which will take about $30 Million dollar restoration project with $5-10 million in concrete restoration.
The above plan shows the three parcels which will comprise “Marine Stadium Park”. This includes the Stadium, a “Flex Park” to the East and a proposed Maritime Center to the West. The idea is to create a great public space, well suited for all types of Stadium events.  And then when the Stadium is NOT in use, there will be opportunities for other activities.

I was told that FMMS will pursue the proposed Maritime Center after they have gotten more funding for the stadium but already have one exciting bit of news to announce:  The Antique Boat Museum of Clayton, NY, one of the largest Maritime Museums in the United States, has committed to raise $7 million towards the creation of a satellite museum in the Maritime Center.

The future of the Marine Stadium is bright and full of hope, starting with Gloria Estefan becoming “The Voice of The Stadium.”  Estefan will lend her support to the National Trust and Friends of Miami Marine Stadium’s ongoing campaign to preserve the stadium by appearing in public service announcements, sharing information about the campaign with her followers on social media, and appearing in print and video materials supporting the structure’s restoration.

“Miami Marine Stadium is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind place, and I am thrilled to be able to join the National Trust and the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium to help restore it to its former glory,” Estefan said. “As someone who once had the honor of performing at the stadium, I can attest to the fact that it is a completely unique place, and I know thousands of Miami residents feel the same kind of personal connection to the stadium.”

The Miami Marine Stadium needs YOU now!

The sad truth is that we have become a disposable society where it is easier to throw away and demolish than to rebuild and restore.  It is now our job to help save this Miami Landmark and every bit helps. Here’s what you can do:

  • Email Miami City Commissioners and ask them to approve the site plan recommended by FMMS.

On July 11th, 2013, The Marine Stadium Site Plan will be presented for approval to the Miami City Commission and they need our help.  Please email the City Commissioners to approve the site plan by clicking HERE.

  • Help spread the word
  • Make a tax-deductible donation to Friends of Miami Marine Stadium.
  • Have your organization host a presentation by FMMS
  • Share your memories of The Marine Stadium by submitting your story  to be included in the book, “If Seats Coud Talk” – email Don Worth at or visit

And lastly, here are some of my own photos at The Miami Marine Stadium.

Here’s the LINK to the photos – since Flickr is not mobile friendly

NOTE:  The Marine Stadium’s restoration efforts are currently on-going, spearheaded by Friends of The Marine Stadium and The National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The City of Miami has given a deadline of 2 years to raise $40 Million.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation is now accepting donations – every penny counts! PLEASE DONATE TO RESTORE THE MIAMI MARINE STADIUM

19 thoughts on “The Miami Marine Stadium Needs You

  1. Please make this project as environmentally friendly as possible. Take into consideration not only the impact to marine life caused by increased high speed boat traffic, but also the litter generated by large crowds. Please ban plastic bags and straws from the facility. Provide ample trash containers and recycling containers not only in the facility, but also in the parking lot. Please do whatever you can to prevent litter from blowing into the water. Do what you can to educate your patrons about not throwing cigarette butts on the ground, and just keeping the area clean in general.

    1. Catherine, it’s not my project, but please be assured that everyone involved is concerned about the environment. Pollution awareness starts with eduction and grass roots efforts like yours. Keep telling people not to harm the environment and to be respectful of what surrounds them. And make sure you go to and volunteer!!

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