Miami Marine Stadium Supporters Hold Floating Stage Design Contest

Winning entry will be considered in future renovation plans

You've got to hand it to the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium -- whether through kicking around floating soccer field ideas or roping in Jimmy Buffett, they know how to keep Miami's abandoned waterfront grandstand in the public consciousness.

The latest idea should intrigue even more people currently unaware of what Miami could enjoy again if the beloved 1963 parabaloid concrete structure on Virginia Key is restored: along with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the American Institute of Architects' Miami chapter, the Friends are sponsoring an "ideas competition" to redesign the stadium's floating stage.

Of course, the original stage was an old oil barge the city moored to the docks and is now half-sunken, so it isn't exactly difficult to best in the imagination (unlike the memories: before being shuttered after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the stadium held some of the city's best events, including concerts, powerboat racing, political rallies, and boxing matches).

While the Friends can't make any promises, they do state the winning entry will be considered in future renovation plans, and there's a hefty chunk of change to be won: first place will earn a $5,000 prize; second place, $2,500; third, $1,000; fourth, $500; and fifth prize will net $250.

Those plans, meanwhile, are not yet concrete. While the movement to renovate Miami Marine is gaining steam, years of neglect, the current demand for waterfront development, and the wobbly economy have conspired to make reopening a tricky proposition.

However, tricky is not impossible, and in November the Miami City Commission approved a matching expenditure of $175,000 for a structural study of the pilings underneath the stadium. It's a baby step, but at least it's something -- and meanwhile, the Friends and the designers and artists among us will be dreaming up what might come next.

The winners of the competition will be announced at an awards ceremony May 6.

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