Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado’s administration is now backing a $45 million bond issue to finance the long-promised renovation of the historic Miami Marine Stadium, a Virginia Key landmark that’s been shuttered and deteriorating since 1992.
The plan, scheduled for consideration by the Miami City Commission on Thursday, comes as Regalado and City Manager Daniel Alfonso make a push to hire architectural firms to restore the stadium and design a “flex-park” and maritime center next to it.
“We need to launch a serious effort to get this done,” Regalado told the Miami Herald in an interview. “We’ve seen that the commission is amenable, and we want to move it forward.”
The crux of the issues: the lack of a clear use or operating plan for the stadium; concerns over potential commercialization of the site and its environmental impact; and the presence of the Miami International Boat Show, which has a five-year agreement with the city to stage its annual expo on the stadium’s expansive parking lots.
The city spent $18 million to repave the lots and install new utilities to accommodate the boat show, which made its Virginia Key debut in February. But the city did not deliver on a promise to open a seven-acre, artificial-turf flex-park on the site once the annual show ended, prompting criticism from parks activists.
Alfonso told the board that the city administration is now trying to deliver on the promise by issuing a request for bids from landscape architectural firms to design the so-called flex-park, which city planners described as an open space that would accommodate the boat show while also providing recreational space for the public the rest of the year.