City’s plan to host boat show at stadium passes another hurdle

Inside the long-abandoned Miami Marine Stadium
Inside the long-abandoned Miami Marine Stadium

After a contentious hearing at City Hall, Miami commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to reject the Village of Key Biscayne’s appeal of plans for an $18 million multi-use park on the site of the Miami Marine Stadium.

The city will continue its plan to transform the stadium grounds into a park, while also paving the infrastructure needed for the site to host the Miami International Boat Show.

The appeal was raised by Key Biscayne officials as an attempt to block the boat show from operating at the stadium. Lawyers representing the village argued that the city’s plan dramatically changes the use of the land, a portion of which is protected with a historic designation. They also voiced concerns about traffic generated by the show, which is sure to clog the Rickenbacker Causeway — the island’s only connection to the mainland.

The city administration’s plan for the park, dubbed a “flex park” for its ability to also operate as an event space, calls for a series of permanent alterations to the grounds surrounding the stadium.

Those include running drainage, sewage, electronic and telecommunications (Wi-Fi) lines under the park, along with cutting back the vegetation that has grown around the stadium during its years of disuse.

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The city also plans to remove a concrete pump house, which once fed the stadium’s fountain with water, and remove the fountain’s walls.

The stadium itself was left out of the plans, but its aquatic basin is the subject of a hot debate. Boat show operators and the city wish to construct a mooring field in its waters, but the opposition contends that it is part of the historic site and sits next to a fragile underwater ecosystem.

Though the rejection was unanimous, Commissioners Mark Sarnoff and Francis Suarez expressed concerns over the city’s plan, which has grown in scope since it was first proposed.

Suarez commended Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Lindsay for her vigilance on the subject, and Sarnoff asked city officials to return to the matter sooner rather than later.

Lindsay told The Real Deal after the hearing that the fight is not over, as Key Biscayne will continue its two lawsuits aimed at the city of Miami and the operators of the boat show.

“We are committed to pursuing all our options in a diligent fashion,” she told TRD. “They have failed to be transparent throughout this process.”