Last week, Miami-Dade County Commissioners unanimously agreed that Florida International University should expand on the youth fairgrounds. The Fair currently leases the land next to FIU and would have to find a new home, along with other groups who have nothing to do with the Fair or FIU.
The Tamiami Youth Basketball league has been in operation at the Fair’s Expo Center for almost 43 years. It’s a home away from home for more than 1,500 kids who dream of landing a spot in the NBA or the WNBA.
But being in the Fair’s Expo Center could be problematic if FIU expands.
“Tamiami basketball, through Tamiami Parks, has an agreement with the youth fair to utilize this facility for our basketball league,” said Oscar Farinas, president of the Tamiami Basketball League. “We don’t really know what will happen to us.”
In a letter to the FIU community, university president Mark Rosenberg said FIU will propose a plan that will still allow for all of the Tamiami Park activities like youth baseball and basketball to remain on the land.
Baseball wouldn’t be impacted by the deal because the fields are on property that isn’t leased to the fair. However, the Expo Center sits right in the middle of the disputed land. It’s left Farinas uncertain about the future of the league.
“Obviously if FIU does take over everything and they do tear down the facility, our kids will have no place to play at this stage,” Farinas said.
Miami-Dade Parks may have a partial solution. The Parks Department told the league that there is a piece of land available to build a facility to house the league. However, there is no funding to build the facility at this time.
Miami-Dade County administrators are expected to recommend a new site for the Youth Fair by September 3rd.