Miami Marine Stadium
Built in 1963 for watching boat racing, and featuring concerts on a floating stage, the Miami Marine Stadium provided Miami with a series of remarkable events from 1963 until 1992.
In addition to literally hundreds of boat races, rowing regattas, and other water based events, the Stadium featured concerts by The Who, Queen, Steppenwolf, Jimmy Buffett, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, Ray Charles, Benny Goodman, and many others. Other events included Fourth of July concerts, boxing and wrestling, Easter Sunrise services, and important political events such as a campaign rally in 1972 where singer Sammy Davis Jr. hugged Richard Nixon—a remarkable occurrence for the time. Even Elvis Presley shot a movie at the Stadium (Clambake). People who attended an event at the Marine Stadium often described the experience—being suspended above the water with a remarkable view of the Miami skyline—as “magical”.
Located on Virginia Key, just four miles from downtown Miami, the Marine Stadium is considered an architectural marvel, admired by fans of architecture around the world. Pioneered by architects by architects such as Le Corbusier, Eero Saarinen, and Luigi Nervi-its unique poured-in-place concrete construction is rarely used today. The Stadium was designed by architect Hilario Candela—who was 28 years old at the time of its construction, and engineer Jack Meyer. When built, its roof, which is a double sided row of hyperbolic parabloids, was considered the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world.
The Miami Marine Stadium is not just a building-it’s is a landscape. A boat racing course was dredged out in front of the the structure. It is 6000’ long by 1,200’ wide with a spoil island at the end, that once marked three different boat racing courses. The Basin is designed as an elongated oval and was modelled after the Circus Maximus in Rome, which is where the chariot races were held. The Miami Marine Stadium and Basin are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places (2018) and were designated historic by the City of Miami (2008). The architectural significance of the Stadium has been recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the World Monuments Fund, and The Getty Foundation.
In 2016,the CIty of Miami authorized $45 million in revenue bonds for the Stadium’s restoration. The City has continued to work on the project by hiring RJ Heisenbottle Architects to develop restoration plans and is issuing a request for proposals for an operator. As of this writing, Miami Marine Stadium is scheduled to be restored in 2021.
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In 1992, the City of Miami shuttered the Marine Stadium after Hurricane Andrew stating that the Stadium was damaged by the Hurricane and must be demolished. An engineering report done at that time demonstrated that the Stadium actually sustained no damage. The Marine Stadium sat for years, as various redevelopment schemes were proposed and discarded. In 2008 a new group, Friends of Miami Marine Stadium formed under the umbrella of Dade Heritage Trust to advocate for restoration of the Marine Stadium. These advocacy efforts eventually compelled the City of Miami to take over the project and begin the process of restoration. In 2016, the City of Miami authorized $45 million in revenue bonds for its restoration. The City has continued to work on this project by hiring RJ Heisenbottle Architects to develop restoration plans, and doing a request for proposals (RFP) for an operator. As of this writing, the Marine Stadium is scheduled to be restored in 2021. For updates on current status, please visit our Facebook page.