Miami Marine Stadium: A Revival of Magic, Concrete, and Spray Paint
You roll under the toll of arches, where you'll pay your $1.75 in shiny stained quarters and leave the mainland via Rickenbacker conveyance. You ride the long curvaceous bridge above the Bay that takes you to Key Biscayne. Another few minutes of driving and you'll find yourself presented with a tall, unbarred fence and a looming dilapidated structure, longer than a football field and seemingly streamed in a multitude of colors, hidden by a lush overgrowth of trees. Pull in, move along the course of the roundabout until the undeniably immense and interesting concrete creation is at your side, and bask in the air of aged abandonment. This is Miami Marine Stadium.
Photos by Claire Nelson
And while it has sat silently upon its watery foundations for the last two decades like a beautiful corpse in the sun, there is finally a spark of hope that Marine Stadium will soon be resurrected as a unique venue for extraordinary entertainment.
- Photos: Touring the Miami Marine Stadium
Designed by Hilario Candela when he was 26 years old, the stadium was constructed in 1963 and remained open for just under 30 years, falling dormant when the city declared the building unsafe in the wake of Hurricane Andrew's destructive tear through Miami in 1992. It seats just over 6,500 in a strikingly modern cantilevered grandstand of poured concrete, held aloft by a series of angled pillars that stand out as a stark predecessor to the hard lines and soaring supports of the Herzog & De Meuron 1111 Lincoln Road parking installation.
"The building's been deserted for 20 years after it was closed for hurricane Andrew," explained Donald Worth, Co-Founder of the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, the grassroots organization working to revive this fascinating place. "Five years ago...I went to a meeting of the Miami-Dade Heritage Trust, a local historic preservation organization, and suggested we form a group. I met George Hernandez there, who is a professor of architecture and was involved in the trust, and we started a group. When we had the first meeting, I expected five people would show up, because with historic preservation meetings, you generally have five people show up and it's always the same five people -- and there were 20 people and I didn't know any of them."
According to Worth, the movement to bring the stadium back to life has had the public's favor from its inception, when he, Hernandez, and Candela, the trio Worth referred to as "the Three Amigos," began to garner support from the public. But there have been challenges to overcome with the City of Miami, which nearly demolished the building just as soon as Worth's organization manifested itself.