Gloria Estefan faults non-profit group’s plan for Miami show site

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Pop icon Gloria Estefan blasted the non-profit group behind a project to restore the Miami Marine Stadium — just weeks after she had lent her name to the group’s plan to bring the Miami International Boat Show there in 2016 — saying she was kept in the dark about crucial and controversial details.

The $121 million restoration and redevelopment plan ultimately proposed by the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium crumbled before the Miami City Commission last month.

The failed plan came on the heels of a press conference with Estefan and National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich announcing the show’s arrival there while construction occurs at the Miami Beach Convention Center. At the time, the plan was lauded as a win-win for the city, a historic monument and the boat show.

Details that emerged after that press conference and just days before the vote — the $90 million in privately financed commercial development around the stadium and the inclusion of two Friends leaders as architects — sealed the deal’s fate, according to the Miami Herald.

Dammrich told Trade Only Today at the time that the botched plan wouldn’t change the boat show’s arrival at the venue in 2016 and 2017; it only meant that the NMMA, the group that owns and produces the show, would have different landlords.

In a letter to Miami city officials on Wednesday, Estefan said she was "shocked to learn [Friends of Miami Marine Stadium’s] intentions were not simply to restore the stadium, but also to extensively develop the site to add an exposition center, dry dock storage, retail and restaurants,” according to NBC Miami.

The letter, published by the Miami Herald in full, expressed Estefan’s “extreme disappointment and strong disagreement with the plan” the group presented.

“As the public face and spokesperson for the restoration of the Miami Marine Stadium, I feel that my credibility and reputation have been put into question merely by my presumed association with the plan presented by” Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, she wrote in a letter to Mayor Tomás Regalado and city commissioners. “I had absolutely NO prior knowledge of the expansive plan that [Friends] ultimately presented to the commission” on Nov.20, she added.

On Wednesday, city administrators met with boat show representatives to discuss coordinating the event, which would be held in February of 2016. Millions of dollars would need to be invested in the site.

A new proposal to keep the boat show on Virginia Key and restore the stadium is expected to be presented to commissioners on Jan.8.

“I think they’re satisfied with the meeting today, the logistics and the way it’s set up,” Regalado told the Herald. “The city is ready to start working very early next year, if we agree.”

Regalado and deputy city manager Alice Bravo said the boat show has been the priority and there have been no talks to this point about restoring the stadium or whether the Friends group would continue to be involved.