The Miami Marine Stadium has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Cue the applause, but inclusion on the list won't do much to advance the stadium's long-delayed restoration.
Inclusion on the register, which is maintained by the National Park Service, is considered an honor. There are tens of thousands of properties on the list across the country ranging from the celebrated to the obscure — including locally the Miami-Dade County Courthouse and Overtown's D.A. Dorsey House.
But the registry doesn't confer any legal protection to the stadium's grandstand structure or its boat basin. Nor does it advance efforts to restore the 1963 stadium, which is owned by the city of Miami and has been closed since 1992. The stadium is protected by local historic designation, conferred in 2008, which bars demolition.
Widely regarded as an architectural and engineering gem, the stadium on Virginia Key has been the focus of a years-long local and national campaign seeking its renovation and reopening. But planning for a promised reopening of the shuttered, graffiti-covered grandstand has moved at a glacial pace.
The city earmarked $45 million for the restoration of the stadium under former mayor Tomas Regalado, who made its renovation a cornerstone of his administration, but left office last year after two terms with no work undertaken. Engineering and architectural studies have been under way for more than a year, but the city has no operational plan for the stadium.
The lack of an operating plan recently prompted Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo, elected in November, to rail against spending money to renovate the stadium, which he claimed no one in his Little Havana district would ever visit.
The stadium was once a popular site for boat races, concerts by stars like Ray Charles, Jimmy Buffett and the Beach Boys, Easter services and other special events.
The stadium's parking lot is now the site of the annual Miami boat show.