Effort to save Miami Marine Stadium gets $80,000 AmEx gift

10/23/2013 4:58 PM

10/23/2013 7:34 PM

American Express will donate $80,000 to the effort to save the closed Miami Marine Stadium, giving the long-running campaign a blue-chip boost.

The gift, which comes from the company’s foundation arm, will underwrite an engineering analysis of the pilings that are sunk in the water and that support the stadium’s grandstand, as well as designs and permitting for any needed repairs to those structural pieces.

The donation will be formally announced Thursday evening at the Coral Gables Museum, which is hosting a 7 p.m. panel discussion on the future of the stadium. The museum is also showing an exhibit on the stadium’s history, its dilapidated present as a canvas for graffiti artists, and plans for its revival as a watersports and performance venue.

Leaders of Friends of the Miami Marine Stadium, the group spearheading the drive to reopen the publicly owned facility, said the American Express grant represents the first step in its renovation. The dramatic, raw-concrete stadium, which opened in 1963 and has been closed since 1992, is today considered an architectural and engineering marvel.

“The fact that such a blue-chip corporation is throwing its support behind this, that sends a real message,’’ said Friends co-founder Don Worth.

An earlier engineering study that concluded the stadium was fundamentally sound recommended a more-detailed analysis of the pilings. The analysis will also allow development of a more-precise cost estimate for the stadium’s refurbishment. Preliminary estimates put that figure at around $30 million.

The Friends group has raised about $10 million so far, including $3 million from a county preservation fund. In July, the city commission authorized the group to proceed and gave it two years to raise the balance of the needed money.

The study financed by the American Express gift is expected to take six to nine months.

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