The Miami Marine Stadium, built on Virginia Key as the first purpose-built venue for powerboat racing in the United States, was also the site of legendary performances by Jimmy Buffett, Queen, The Who and Ray Charles, as well as a site political rallies and spectacles of all kinds.
Built in 1963 and designed by architect Hilario Candela, a 28-year-old recent immigrant from Cuba at that time, the stadium is considered a modernist masterpiece, boasting the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world.
In the wake of Hurricane Andrew, the stadium was declared an unsafe building under Miami-Dade County building code and shuttered by the City of Miami on September 18, 1992. An engineering study demonstrated it was sound and not damaged by the hurricane, but it was closed to the public nonetheless. Since then, the stadium has become a haven for vandals, graffiti artists and taggers.
The stadium is recognized by the World Monuments Fund (Watch List, 2010) 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. The stadium was also recognized as an architectural masterpiece by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, named to the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered List in 2009 and named National treasure in 2012.
Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, created as an all-volunteer organization in February 2008 to advocate for restoration of the Marine Stadium, is working to collaborate with the City and community at large to accomplish this purpose and have it operated in the public interest. 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.
The restoration project includes a now-successful advocacy effort, education of the community, and management of the Stadium so that it can include programming and events as it used to. Also, a stunning freerunning video, filmed at the Miami Marine Stadium by the Parkour Playhouse, highlights one of the efforts to showcase the glory of this long-neglected architectural gem.
- Brittany Silver