A modern marvel reimagined off the waves of Key Biscayne, Miami Marine Stadium, a historic mecca for powerboat racing and concerts hosting the likes of The Beach Boys, Bonnie Raitt and Jimmy Buffet, is taking on new form. After 20 years of abandonment, the venue receives a masterful facelift suggesting magnificent art, over the top architecture, and engaging community participation.
“The Stadium is being reinvented for use in the 21st century,” said Donald Worth, co-founder of Restore Marine Stadium. “It will be a major concert venue. In fact, I believe one of the truly great open air venues in the world. There is a new design for a floating stage, which will include state of the art sound and lighting systems for today's performers. Expect out of the box events at the Marine Stadium, including drone racing, maybe exhibition basketball, tennis, volleyball matches, sound and light shows, holograms projected on water, and wildly creative Cirque De Soleil-type entertainment that uses the water as an opera.”
A time capsule of madcap groovy performances including Jimmy Buffet’s explosive concert finale remembered as the rock and roll star jumping off the floating stage, Miami Marine Stadium was once a kaleidoscope of thrilling entertainment that lit up South Miami on the backdrop of balmy tropical nights. From spectators splashing in inner tubes applauding their favorite artist to Keith Moon dropping a paisley colored bongo drum in the water—soon to be retrieved by starry-eyed fans—the fond memories made on the aquatics of Key Biscayne permeated time as the sounds from Ray Charles’ bandstand emanated across the water.
And with the assistance of The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, Getty Foundation, World Monuments Fund, Anzhelika Productions, and Heineken USA, Miami Marine Stadium is expected to be brought back to its 1960’s glory with a contemporary twist by 2022.
“The new Marine Stadium will look pretty much like the old one,” said Worth. “But it will have all modern amenities. The architectural plans are being developed by the restoration team headed by the architecture firm RJ Heisenbottle Architects. They are the premier historic preservation architects in Miami with previous projects which include Vizcaya, the Gusman, and even Miami City Hall. What is particularly exciting is that Hilario Candela, the architect who designed the Marine Stadium in 1963, is part of the restoration team.”
Rebuilding Miami Marine Stadium to fit Miami’s present-day culture, sixty stadium seats left over from Heineken's 2016 “Save Your Seat” campaign have been re-purposed by local artists, including Gloria Hernando of Latin Glory, to lend homage to the stadium’s sizzling era of summer jams and number one hits. “It was an honor to recreate a seat from such an iconic building in Miami that I grew up enjoying all my life,” said Hernando. “Not only was I able to work with a piece of history from my hometown, but it also gave me the opportunity to fuse my background in interior design together with art. Overall, it was a very special and personal project.”
Collecting over 160 submitted letters from locals who shared stories about their visits at Miami Marine Stadium, Hernando chose seven quotes to bolster her piece capturing the free-spirited times. “The goal of this piece, ‘The Memory Throne,’ was to transform an ordinary seat into a symbolic throne that connects the past to the present moment,” said Hernando. “The main elements of the design include the bull horns, candles, and quotes.”
The exhibition, coined “If Seats Could Talk,” in collaboration with Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, is available for viewing now on the Restore Marine Stadium website, and while only sixty seats were chosen for redesign, Worth is eager to continue this project on the remaining 3,000 seats. “By the time we are done, I fully believe that the Marine Stadium will receive as much acclaim as the Sydney Opera House, a great building that symbolizes a great city,” said Worth.” Who else would have a ‘Marine Stadium’ besides Miami?”
The “Eiffel Tower” of Miami, as referred to by Jason Lloyd Clement of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Miami Marine Stadium is scheduled to be sponsored by Heineken as one of their first and largest projects in the city.
“It’s been a long time in the making, but a project that is worth every effort it’s received and well worth the work to come,” said Quinn Kilbury, head of partnerships and consumer experience at Heineken USA. “At Heineken, we firmly believe in the preservation of what makes cities great, and this stadium is a bridge from Miami’s rich history to its vibrant future.”
Highlighting Miami’s individuality and beauty with its unique architecture and location, Miami Marine Stadium, since the early sixties, has provided an experience of authenticity. And with its 21st Century pop-smash makeover, Miami Marine Stadium will remain an iconic structure, lending new memories and experiences for future visitors to come.
Photography by: Photography by Diana Larrea and Steven Brooke Studios