Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Miami Marine Stadium

On the heels of the Bacardi building preservation efforts is another developing story this time in Key Biscayne.

The Miami Marine Stadium is a modern architectural marvel that is easily viewed in driving by the main road in Key Biscayne. This stadium was built in 1963 with water in mind, hence the word "marine" in its formal name. The intended purpose was for powerboat racing. The architect was a 28 years young, Cuban American, Hilario Candela.

The roof or cover of the stadium resembles a modern- day jet fighter plane with its sharp angles and pointy tips. The stage is the water where power boats once zigged-zagged across this bay inlet.

Another highlight was the "floating stage" in front of the grandstand for diverse activities such as classical concerts, Rock and Roll shows and the annual Easter Sunrise Service. What a fabulous idea!

When I drive by the stadium, it's easy to imagine the sea of roaring crowds, the buzz from the boat's power engines and the energy from a stadium that encompasses elements of earth, wind, and water.

The history of this venue is as fascinating as any other building in Miami. The land was donated by the Matheson family with specific restrictions for "water sports". Despite the tragedy on opening day (a speed boat racer, James Tapp, was killed in accident), the stadium flourished. 1972, President Nixon walked on stage and Sammy Davis Jr. hugged him before a crowd of 6,000. 1985 - Jimmy Buffett performs live at Miami Marine Stadium in August as part of his Sleepless Knights Tour where "insanity rules as tens of thousands rocked in the water. Enjoying the music from their chairs, their boats, or just wading in the bay, they had all come to party with the pirate songster of Key West." A video of the performances was released on VHS and laserdisc under the title Live by the Bay. 1991 - Phil Donahue did a show from the stadium. His featured guest: New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Today, quite sadly, the stadium is a breeding ground now for many of Miami's graffiti artists. Almost every inch of the inner walls of the stadium display everything from amateur to expert pieces or "throw-ups".

I always wondered "what happened?" Sure enough I came across the headlines of the Miami Herald today to learn yet another iconic marvel that is lost with the politics of the 1970's and 80's and even today. But there is hope! For the complete article with photos, please click here.