Miami City Commission Votes Thursday on Renovation Plans for Miami Marine Stadium

The Miami City Commission on Thursday agreed to allow a nonprofit group to develop a plan to renovate Miami Marine Stadium.

The commission, in a 4-1 vote, approved giving the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium control over it. The group said it could now start raising the $30 million needed to restore and re-open the stadium as a multipurpose venue for concerts, boat races, sailing regattas and community events.

The commission would have to approve the plan for the stadium, The Miami Herald reported.

The 6,500-seat stadium, located at Virginia Key on the Rickenbacker Causeway, was built in the 1960s for powerboat racing. But it was closed in 1992 after damages from Hurricane Andrew.

Part of the renovation includes building a marine exhibition center, on part of the parking lot, to support its operations. The group, which launched five years ago, asked the commission for control of the 12-acre property. It also plans to convert the entrance plaza and parking lot area into a park, the Herald reported.

No public money is involved, but City Commissioner Frank Carollo, who voted against it, said he is worried that the move constitutes a giveaway of public land – even if it is to a nonprofit group that will create a large public park on the site.

The group has two years to raise money for the renovation.

A year ago, the commission approved to lease the land to the nonprofit without seeking bids, but a vote on how much land to give the group has been delayed due to dissenting opinions, according to the Herald.

“We’re just trying to do a good thing,"  the group's co-founder Jorge Hernandez told the Herald.  “We want to make it a destination water park for the city of Miami.’’

Hernandez, who is a board member on the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has brought the campaign to save the stadium to a national level. In May, the National Trust made singer Gloria Estefan the face of the campaign. Estefan could not attend the meeting Thursday, but the commission was to show a video of her supporting the stadium.

Don Worth, the group's co-founder, told NBC 6 that it already has $10 million in funding commitments, including $3 million from a Miami-Dade County preservation fund, but can’t proceed with detailed plans or full-fledged fundraising without a finalized deal for the site.

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