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A High Line for Miami?

But group needs $37m to restore stadium

The Virginia Key stadium by the sea

There are hopes that a neglected 6,566-seater Modernist stadium on Virginia Key could become Miami’s rival to New York’s High Line park. The huge structure, which was built in 1963 and measures 326ft by 100ft, overlooks the water and used to host powerboat races as well as rock concerts on a floating stage. It was closed down and threatened with demolition when it was declared unsafe in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, although a subsequent engineering study found that the structure was sound.

The Friends of Miami Marine Stadium (FMMS), a group that was set up in 2008 to restore the structure and has more than 2,000 volunteers, needs to raise $37m by March 2014. There have been difficulties—securing naming rights with the City of Miami has been “complicated”, says Donald Worth, the co-chairman of the FMMS—but $10m has already been committed, including support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Worth compares the project with New York’s High Line, an elevated park that was previously a disused rail line. “It’s a similar initiative to ours,” he says. “Both were started by a grassroots organisation that took on a complex project that people didn’t think had a chance.” Robert Hammond and Philip Aarons, the High Line’s co-founder and founding chair respectively, made a presentation to the FMMS earlier this year.

The stadium has been popular with graffiti artists since it closed, and preserving of some of its disused look is core to the FMMS’s plans. “We could reserve one of the walls for a graffiti competition,” Worth says. Other ideas for art include a floating sculpture garden and even an art fair. The original architect of the building, Hilario Candela, now the co-chairman of the FMMS, has more sporting plans. “If we put three barges together, we could host a soccer match on the water,” he says.

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