Is Miami Marine Stadium the Next High Line?

Posted on: February 21st, 2012 by David Garber

It seems like everyone's talking about "the next High Line." And why not? Who wouldn't want to see the same wild success that the redevelopment of New York City's abandoned elevated rail structure into a unique linear park has brought? What began as an unpopular - to the city, at least - preservation issue has now catapulted into one of the city's top tourist and resident attractions and has sparked over $2 billion in surrounding private investment.

Miami Marine Stadium looking towards the city. (Photo: Vik Cuban on Flickr)

The Miami Marine Stadium, one of our 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2009, is one of those "next cool place" contenders. Built in 1963, the waterfront stadium has many of the same ingredients that the High Line had before getting its green makeover: passionate supporters, urban grit, awesome views, and a distinctive architectural foundation.

Looking up at the stands and the stadium's iconic roofline. (Photo: Vik Cuban on Flickr)

But one of the biggest lessons from the adaptive reuse of the High Line is that it takes more than passion, interest, and big ideas to get massive projects like these off the ground. Unless 100% private funding falls into place, there has to be a marriage of public interest and public funding. Fortunately for Miami, that marriage is already producing results.

Significant work would need to be done to bring the stadium to any modern use. (Photo: Vik Cuban on Flickr)

This past weekend, The Miami Herald featured a story on Friends of the High Line founder Robert Hammond's visit to Miami Marine Stadium and what needs to happen to bring this project to life:

Not coincidentally, Hammond’s visit came at a critical moment for the four-year-old marine stadium campaign, which has proceeded in fits and starts. Activists have succeeded in saving the 1963 structure from the wrecking ball, won historic landmark protection for it and generated worldwide admiration for its still-dazzling architecture and engineering.

Leaders of the nonprofit Friends group had hoped to also formally announce an agreement with the city granting the organization the right to undertake the stadium’s renovation, but that has been delayed amid disagreement over details of the deal.

Last year, stadium supporters were ready to walk away in frustration over what they said in a letter were “obstacles’’ imposed by the city, but they now say the deal should be approved soon by the city commission.

The agreement would give the Friends organization, an offshoot of Dade Heritage Trust, two years to raise an estimated $30 million to renovate the stadium, shuttered by the city in 1992 after it was damaged by Hurricane Andrew. Worth said the group has secured more than $10 million of that, including $3 million in public funds.

“The advocacy battle has been won, and we’re at the cusp of the next stage,’’ Friends co-founder Don Worth said. “Now we have to do it.’’

Read the full article "Can the Miami Marine Stadium become the next High Line phenom?" to learn more and see pictures of Hammond's visit to the site.

David Garber is the blog editor at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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