Miami Marine Stadium
Time Line

iThis timeline shows the history of the Marine Stadium. It also tracks our advocacy effort to restore the Stadium, which began in 2008. As you can see, the advocacy effort has been challenging, with many ups and downs. We keep this section updated with new developments. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Marine Stadium will not be restored in one, either. But after many years of hard effort, we are on track for success.

1963: Marine Stadium constructed and basin dredged. The Stadium, which seats 6,500 people, is designed by Cuban born architect Hilario Candela. The man made basin-6,000 feet by 1,200 feet-is the length of the Washington Mall. The Stadium is built for a cost of $1 million; dredging the basin is another $1 million.

The land the Stadium is constructed on was originally County land. It was deeded to the City for the purpose of the Marine Stadium. The Deed has a reverter clause which states that in the event that the land is not used for a Marine Stadium-or related uses-then the property must revert back to the County.

1964-1992: Marine Stadium hosts many events. Originally designed for boat racing, the Stadium also features musical performances of every type, boxing, water shows, Easter sunrise services, campaign rallies, community events. During its last few years of operaton, the Stadium deteriorates as the City of Miami shows less and less interest in managing the facility.

Hurricane Andrew-1992: The City alleges that Hurricane Andrew damaged the facility and needs to be demolished. $1 million is requested from FEMA for that purpose. The insurance company commissions an engineering study by Simpson Gumpertz and Heger (SGH);the study shows that the Stadium suffered no damage from Hurricane Andrew and requires $2-3 million in repairs due to the lack of investment during the operating period of 1964-1992.

After the SGH study was made public, there was organized opposition to the demolition, and the City backed off and returned the money to FEMA.

1992-2007: The Marine Stadium remains shuttered and due to lack of security, it is vandalized and covered with graffiti. Various redevelopment plans-which usually involve demolition of the Stadium-are proposed.

June, 2007: The City unveils the first draft of a Master Plan for Virginia Key by the Planning Firm EDSA. The Marine Stadium is not on it. The 200 people in attendance at the community meeting unanimously and spontaneously ask the City to put the Marine Stadium back in the plan.

February. 2008: Friends of Marine Stadium is formed. The Friends group is an informal, all volunteer coalition of individuals and organizations under the administrative umbrella of Dade Heritage Trust-Miami Dade County’s foremost historic preservation organization. The goal of the group is to have the Stadium restored.

April, 2008: Friends of Marine Stadium has its first event, a fundraiser at the Miami Rowing Club held in conjunction with Team Row, a not for profit organization that seeks to promote rowing among the community’s youth. The event sells out (over 400 people attend) and the Stadium initiative receives coverage on the front page of the metro section of the Miami Herald.

July, 2008: Friends of Marine Stadium/Dade Heritage Trust proposes historic designation of the Marine Stadium to the City’s Historic and Environmental Preservation Board. The Miami Herald writes the first of ten editorials in favor of the Marine Stadium.

August, 2008: Friends of Marine Stadium debuts its website, www.marinestadium.org

August, 2008: EDSA unveils the latest draft of the Virginia Key Master Plan. This time, the Marine Stadium is included-although it is surrounded by many parking garages and other structures.

October, 2008: The City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board approves-unanimously-the historic designation of the Marine Stadium, the basin, and an envelope of land 100 feet east and west of the Marine Stadium-all the way forward to Rickenbacker Causeway.  The City of Miami administration appeals the designation of the basin and envelop of land-but allows the Stadium designation to stand.

Fall, 2008: Friends of Marine Stadium continues to build momentum. Local and national magazines and organizations endorse effort to restore Marine Stadium.

January, 2009: Friends of Marine Stadium hosts an event “the future of Miami Marine Stadium”. 15 promoters and event organizations discuss their plans to use the Stadium. The Miami Dragon Boat Club provides dragon boat races during intermission. 180 people attend.

April, 2009: The Marine Stadium is named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “11 Most Endangered Historic Places”. This annual list generates significant nationwide publicity, including The New York Times, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, and USA Today.

May, 2009: Presentation of the University of Miami Architectural Preservation Studio on the Marine Stadium and Basin. The graduate student class is taught by Jorge Hernandez, Hilario Candela and Catherine Lynn. Numerous ideas from this student class are ultimately adopted by EDSA in a redraft of the Virginia Key Master Plan.

The Friends of Marine Stadium hosts a logo contest to design a logo for the group. There are 32 submissions (which are posted on the website. Friends of Marine Stadium also hosts a “State of the Stadium” shindig, attended by several hundred people at the Bayside Hut, next door to the Stadium.

July, 2009: $50,000 is raised to fund an engineering study to evaluate the structural condition of the concrete of the Stadium. Funding comes from a coalition of local and national organizations led by the World Monuments Fund, The Villagers, the Office of Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the John and Selene Devaney Foundation. The study will be done by Simpson, Gumpertz and Heger, the same firm that did the Marine Stadium study in 1993.

The Marine Stadium is named to the Florida Trust For Historic Designation’s “11 Most Endangered” List.

September, 2009: Jimmy Buffett records video endorsement for Friends of Marine Stadium.  This generates significant press and excitement.

October, 2009: The World Monuments Fund, the foremost organization worldwide devoted to the preservation of architectural and cultural sites, names the Marine Stadium to its 2010 Watch List (significant sites which are endangered), along with places such as Macchu Picchu, the historic center of Buenos Aires, the City of Old Jerusalem, and Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. There is significant additional press including an article by the Associated Press which is syndicated nationwide. Web traffic, which has been rising steadily, spikes in October.

The City of Miami Commission hears the latest version of the EDSA Master Plan. The Plan, which incorporates many ideas of the University of Miami Preservation Workshop, reduces significantly the amount of building around the Stadium and eliminates proposed docks of the Basin. The City Commission defers action on the Master Plan and requests that the plan return to the Commission in May, 2010.

The Administration drops its appeal of the historic designation of the Marine Stadium Basin and envelope of land surrounding the Stadium.

November, 2009: Tomas Regalado elected Mayor of Miami; makes restoration of Miami Marine Stadium a priority of his administration

February, 2010: World Monuments Fund and Friends of Marine Stadium announce results of engineering study done by Simpson Gumpertz and Heger (SGH). Study shows that the cost of the concrete restoration estimated to be between $5.5-$8.5 million, depending upon how much additional work is done to extend the life of the structure. This compares to a report prepared for the City of Miami in 2008 which estimated the costs of concrete restoration to be as high as $15 million. SGH recommends that an additional study be done to examine the condition of the piles under the seabed and under the land. The SGH figure is for concrete restoration only and does not include other items such as bathrooms, new seats, plumbing, electrical, etc.

April, 2010: Miami Dade County Board of Commissioners approve by a 12-0 unanimous vote, $3 million of funding for restoration of the Marine Stadium from a Historic Preservation Program. The funding will not be available until all other funding has been secured. All of the Commissioners spoke about events that they attended at the Marine Stadium and the importance of it. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado spoke in favor of the funding.

July, 2010: Miami City Commission approves Virginia Key Master Plan by a unanimous 5-0 vote. The plan, which includes the Marine Stadium and Basin, was based on the work of an architectural studio in the spring of 2010 at the University of Miami led by Friends of Marine Stadium Co-Founder and Architecture Professor Jorge Hernandez and Hilario Candela, architect of the Marine Stadium.  The studio worked with a coalition of groups led by the Urban Environment League and the City of Miami Planning Department and Administration. It makes the Marine Stadium the centerpiece of development for Virginia Key.

The plan does not include any money-but it is a road map for the future and a very important step in the initiative to restore the Stadium.

September, 2010: The FIND Commission (Florida Inland Navigation District) approves an expenditure of $175,000 for an analysis, design and permit study to evaluate the water side pilings of the Marine Stadium and the portion of the structure that is above the water. This amount must be matched. If the study is successfully completed, the City may apply to the FIND Commission at a future date for funding for a portion of the restoration work.

November, 2010: The Miami City Commission approves an expenditure of $175,000 for the pilings study, matching the FIND Commission grant.

Febuary, 2011: Friends of Marine Stadium announces a contest to design a new floating stage for the Stadium. The contest is administered by DawnTown and co-sponsored by the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

May, 2011: The winner and semi-finalists of the Floating Stage Design contest are announced at an Awards Ceremony held at the Rusty Pelican.  All 90 contest entries-many international-are displayed. The event is attended by 175 people and Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. The event receives significant press attention.

July – August, 2011: Friends of Miami Marine Stadium receives 501(c)(3) designation by the Internal Revenue Service and is qualified to independently accept tax deductible contributions. The first effort to negotiate an agreement with the City of Miami over development of the Marine Stadium and adjacent area is not successful; work continues with an expected date for the agreement of fall, 2011. The Miami Herald writes its sixth editorial in favor of the restoration of the Miami Marine Stadium.  

January, 2012: Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority (MSEA), a quasi-public organization, approves a Memorandum of Understanding and Resolution which is the first step in the creation of a partnership between Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, MSEA and the Miami City Commission to restore the Marine Stadium. The Miami City Commission defers action on this item to a later date. The Miami Herald writes its 7th Editorial in favor of the restoration of the Marine Stadium.

February, 2012: Robert Hammond and Phil Aarons, Co-Founder and Founding Chair of The High Line (New York City) make a presentation at the University of Miami School of Architecture entitled “The High Line-New York’s Park In The Sky: Lessons for Miami Marine Stadium”. The event, which was initiated and co-sponsored by Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, was preceded by a morning press conference at the Marine Stadium featuring Tomas Regalado, Mayor of Miami, various elected officials, Hammond and Aarons, and Bonnie Burnham, President of The World Monuments Fund. Jack Meyer, engineer of the Marine Stadium is honored by Friends of Miami Marine Stadium at a sold out event (160 people) at the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. The evening features speakers from various engineering organizations, Mayor Regalado, The Chair of the Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering at the University of Florida (Jack graduated from there in 1949) and members of Biscayne Bay Yacht Club.

March 2012: Miami City Commission approves the creation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)  between the City, Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority, and Friends of Miami Marine Stadium. According to the terms of the agreement, Friends must submit a business plan for the renovation of the Stadium within six months and a raise the funds necessary for it within two years. The Marine Stadium is named to the National Treasures list of the National Trust For Historic Preservation. For each National Treasure, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is creating a coordinated campaign that taps expert resources across the organization, including preservation, advocacy, legal, marketing and fund-raising. This is a very exclusive program. To date, only 22 sites around the country have been selected.

April, 2012: The National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded a $50,000 grant to Friends of Miami Marine Stadium for planning.  Funding for this grant came from the Knight Foundation.

December, 2012: The Miami Marine Stadium Steering Committee unanimously approves the site plan for Marine Stadium Park, as recommended by Friends of Miami Marine Stadium. The Site plan now goes to the City of Miami Commission and Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority for approval. Approval of a site plan was mandated by the MOU. Friends of Miami Marine Stadium had a very successful Art Basel. An exhibit of photographs of the Marine Stadium by Jay Koenigsberg was displayed at the National Hotel to kick off Art Basel. 200 people attended the opening.

March,  2013: Friends of Miami Marine Stadium makes a presentation of the Marine Stadium Site Plan to the Miami City Commission.  The Commission asks the Administration for preparation of a specific  proposal so that the item can be voted upon.

May, 2013: Gloria Estefan is introduced as the “voice” of Miami Marine Stadium and will lead the Advocacy campaign. The story, widely covered, reaches newspapers and media in the United States, Latin America, and the Carribean. The Miami Herald writes another editorial-their eighth-in support of our efforts to restore the Miami Marine Stadium.

July, 2013: On a 4-1 vote, the Miami City Commission approved the Miami Marine Stadium site plan. The Miami Herald publishes its ninth editorial in support of restoration of the Miami Marine Stadium.

September, 2013: Tourism Cares, a not for profit organization funded by the travel industry, announces that the Miami Marine Stadium will be the site of their next volunteer project in May, 2014.  The Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) Commission approves a grant for a study of the pilings of the Marine Stadium. The grant must be matched by another contribution.

October, 2013: The exhibit, “Concrete Paradise: The Miami Marine Stadium” opens at the Coral Gables Museum. This major exhibit, which features a full calendar of programs and events, places an important spotlight on the Marine Stadium. The exhibit will remain up until January 19, 2014

The American Express Foundation announces an $80,000 grant for a study of the seaside pilings of the Miami Marine Stadium. This gift can be used to FUND the pilings study approved by FIND.

December, 2013: “Curiosity” a floating sculpture created by the French art duo Kolkoz, premiers opposite the Marine Stadium during Miami Art Basel. The installation is sponsored by Audemars Piguet and Galerie Perrotin and brings significant attention to the Marine Stadium during Art Basel, one of the most important art fairs in the world. Friends of Miami Marine Stadium celebrates the Stadium’s 50th birthday with a showing of the Elvis Presley Movie “Clambake” (filmed at the Marine Stadium in 1967) and a real South Florida clambake-paella-at the Coral Gables Museum.

January, 2014: Marine Stadium Exhibit at the Coral Gables Museum closes with a sold out benefit event featuring Gloria Estefan and Jimmy Buffett.

March,  2014: A smaller version of “Concrete Paradise: Miami Marine Stadium” opens at HistoryMiami.

May, 2014: Tourism Cares, a not for profit organization funded by the travel industry, sponsors a volunteer day at the Marine Stadium and Virginia Key. 340 tourism professionals from around the United States participate. They remove four dumpsters of trash from the Stadium and plant 800 trees and 11,000 sea oats on Virginia Key. This is tremendous visibility to the tourism industry nationwide!

The Florida State Legislature approves $1 million of funding towards the restoration of Miami Marine Stadium.

The exhibit  “Concrete Paradise:Miami Marine Stadium” closes at HistoryMiami.

June, 2014: June 28, “A Day of Art and Action” at Miami Marine Stadium. Gloria Estefan announces a $500,000 donation towards the restoration of Miami Marine Stadium. Nine street artists paint murals at the Stadium and the “Art History Mural Project” is unveiled. Through this project, limited edition prints will be sold of murals painted at the Marine Stadium. There is also a press conference and the days happenings are recorded by 50 instagram bloggers.

July, 2014: The PBS News Hour features a 7 ½ minute major story on restoration plans for the Marne Stadium. The story, broadcast nationally, includes interviews with Marine Stadium architect Hilario Candela.

Septmber, 2014: Marine Stadium receives a $180,000 grant from the Getty Fondation to examine issues pertaining to the restoration of the concrete at the Stadium. Other grant recipients include the Sydney Opera House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, and an apartment building in Paris designed by Le Corbousier. The R. Kirk Landon Foundation donates $210,000 to restoration efforts for the Stadium.

November, 2014: Friends of Miami Marine Stadium presents a proposal to the Miami City Commission to restore the Stadium and the park around it, build a Maritime Center, and bring the Miami Boat Show from Miami Beach to the Marine Stadium site on 2016. The proposal is rejected unanimously by the City of Miami Commission as being deficient and unacceptable.

December, 2014: The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Gloria Estefan criticize the plans put forward by Friends of Miami Marine Stadium and withdraw their support for the group.

January, 2015: The City of Miami enters into an agreement with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) to bring the Boat Show to the Marine Stadium site for 2016 and 2017. The City agrees to make the necessary improvements (originally estimated at $16 million; increasing to $20 million to the site).

February 2015: Village of Key Biscayne sues City of Miami over the Miami Boat Show. Alleges that the Show will create massive traffic and environmental problems and that the Marine Stadium Deed and Master Plan have been violated. Key Biscayne affirms support for the Marine Stadium itself-but not for the Boat Show. Dispute continues over the next year.

August, 2015: A new group, Restore Marine Stadium, forms to advocate for the Marine Stadium. The group has a facebook page. Friends of Miami Marine Stadium is now inactive.

September, 2015: National Trust For Historic Preservation has a Board of Trustees meeting in Miami. The group lights up the Marine Stadium for three nights and reaffirms support for Marine Stadium.

December, 2015: City of Miami issues a Request for Qualification (RFQ) for an architect/engineer for restoration of the Miami Marine Stadium. Responses are due by February 2016.

January, 2016: Miami City Commission approves the creation of the Virginia Key Advisory Board. The Steering Committee is an Advisory Board which will develop policies for the restoration of Virginia Key, including restoration of the Marine Stadium.

February, 2016: The Miami International Boat Show takes place at Marine Stadium Park. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Dade Heritage Trust have a booth at the Boat Show dedicated to advocacy for the Marine Stadium. The Trust starts an online petition. The message: In 2016, The City of Miami must make restoration of the Marine Stadium a priority. Over 2,300 signatures are collected at the Boat Show, and by the end of the month there are 3,500 signers.

March, 2016: The City of Miami begins a study of the landside and seaside pilings. The study, done by Coastal Construction, was funded by an $80,000 grant from the American Express Foundation. The Miami City Commission approves the re-application of a grant from the Florida Inland Navigation for a more extensive design, analysis and permit study of the pilings. Total estimated cost of the project is $500,000; the FIND 50% grant would be $250,000.

July, 2016: Heineken, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, kicks off a crowd funding campaign to raise money to remove the seats from the Miami Marine Stadium. This high profile campaign consists of adverstising, social media, and major events.

City of Miami Commission considers a $275 million General Obligation Bond issue, which includes $37 million for restoration of the Marine Stadium. The Commission does not approve the Bond Issue as several Commissioners ask for more detail.

September, 2016: Heineken concludes their crowd funding campaign. $103,000 is raised from over 600 contributors, exceeding Heineken’s goals. The campaign concludes with a sold out concert at the Miami Beach Fillmore with the band Schoolboy Q.

November, 2016: City of Miami Commission approves a Resolution authorizing up to $45 million in revenue bond financing for the restoration of Miami Marine Stadium.

January, 2017: Miami City Commission approves contract to hire an architect/engineer team for restoration of the Marine Stadium. The team is headed up by local preservation architect Richard Heisenbottle and includes Hilario Candela, the original architect  of the Marine Stadium.

July 2017: Presentation made to City Commission is made re: Phase I Assessment of Marine Stadium. Architect Richard Heisenbottle states that after extensive examination, the Marine Stadium is restorable and estimated cost-including a new floating stage and 10)% contingency, is $45 million. Commission unanimously agrees to proceed to Phase II, which is to develop a complete architectural restoration plan for the Marine Stadium. Commission also agrees to let RJ Heisenbottle Associates pursue Federal Historic Designation of the Marine Stadium. 1039 people sent emails to the City Commission in support of the Marine Stadium restoration effort.

November, 2017: The National Trust for Historic Preservation Announces the Miami Marine Stadium Seat Art Project. Seats will be given to artists to allow them to create art with found objects. The photographs of the artwork created will be featured on an online gallery created by the National Trust.

January, 2018: Miami City Commission unanimously approves a Resolution to move forward with Federal Historic Designation for the Marine Stadium and environs. RJ  Heisenbottle Associates  signs contract with the City to begin Phase II, development of complete architectural plans for the Stadium.

February, 2018: City of Miami Historic Preservation Board approves application for Federal Historic Designation of Miami Marine Stadium.

April, 2018: The Miami Marine Stadium is named to the National Register of Historic Places. The first boat race in 26 years takes place at Miami Marine Stadium

November, 2018: City of Miami issues a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an operator for Miami Marine Stadium.

February, 2019: City of Miami issues Notice to Proceed (NTP) to the restoration team headed up by RJ Heisenbottle Architects to move forward with complete architectural plans and construction drawings for the Marine Stadium. Estimated completion date of this task is August, 2019.

March, 2019: City of Miami withdraws RFP for Marine Stadium Operator. Administration states that RFP will be reissued shortly.

April, 2019: “IF SEATS COULD TALK”, an exhibition of original Marine Stadium seats re-imagined by artists, opens at the Miami Design Preservation League Welcome Center/Museum. 60 artists have completed seats. The exhibit is a collaboration with Historic Virginia Key Beach Park. Restore Marine Stadium goes live with its website, www.restoremarinestadium.org

May, 2019: City of Miami reissues Request for Proposals (RFP) for an operator for the Marine Stadium. Responses are due July 23.

June, 2019: Heineken begins summer promotional campaign focused on Miami Marine Stadium. Campaign includes events, a contest, and displays in Publix. This campaign follows Heineken’s successful crowd funding campaign from the summer of 2016.

July, 2019: City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board unanimously approves Miami Marine Stadium restoraton plans.

August, 2019: Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) approves $1.2 million grant for restoration of the Marine Stadium. This grant is contingent upon obtaining all applicable Federal and State permits. Bidding period for Marine Stadium operator RFP is closed.