Miami-Dade County

Miami to sell off Marine Stadium seats as restoration effort begins

Miami Marine Stadium: Save Your Seat

The "Save Your Seat" fundraiser for Miami Marine Stadium launched on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Three hundred limited-edition wooden armchairs dating back to 1963 are on sale for $500 a pop, historical value included.
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The "Save Your Seat" fundraiser for Miami Marine Stadium launched on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Three hundred limited-edition wooden armchairs dating back to 1963 are on sale for $500 a pop, historical value included.

For sale: 300 limited edition 1963 wooden armchairs.

They are worn down by the elements, tagged with graffiti and lined with rusting aluminum.

And while it appears trespassers have already pilfered scores cost-free, they can be purchased online by South Florida residents at $500 a pop — historical value included.

On Thursday, Heineken and the National Trust for Historic Preservation launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to assist in the restoration and reopening of the Miami Marine Stadium, a one-of-a-kind waterfront venue that opened on Virginia Key in 1963 only to be shuttered after it was blasted by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The centerpiece of the campaign — which is as much about generating awareness as money — is an effort to save and sell off seats from the thousands that will be removed by October in order to make way for anticipated renovations.

“We know now that we’re going to get this thing done. And we know these seats won’t be able to be here,” Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said during a press conference held inside the stadium as a passing rainstorm dumped water through holes in the concrete roof. “We already lost a huge opportunity to save history when the Orange Bowl was demolished and the seats disappeared.”

Wary South Florida residents will be forgiven if they roll their eyes at Regalado’s proclamations about the great future of the stadium, which in its years of abandonment has become an urban canvas for graffiti artists. The mayor promised to renovate the venue when he was first elected almost seven years ago, and managed to recruit the Miami International Boat Show to the area this year. But now entering his last 18 months in office, a series of efforts to restore the historic venue seems to have so far resulted in more controversy than progress.

This time, though, the project has more promise given that Regalado’s administration is hoping to ask voters in November to approve $275 million in bond projects, including the stadium’s estimated $37 million rehabilitation. A City Commission vote on whether to allow a referendum is expected on July 29.

With the city having also selected a firm led by specialist Richard Heisenbottle and original stadium architect Hilario Candela to design renovations, Regalado’s words finally seem like more than bluster. He said Thursday after hoisting two wooden seats tagged with the words “ARMY OF SNIPERS” that the newly launched donation campaign is part of a public-private partnership intended to help raise funds not only for the restoration of the stadium, but also for an endowment to assist its future operations.

Based online at www.indiegogo.com, the campaign seeks to raise a current goal of $100,000 through individual donations. Smaller contributions are rewarded with T-shirts, prints and other swag. South Florida residents who give at least $500 will have one of the stadium’s thousands of remaining seats hand-selected by RLA Conservation, removed from concrete with a grinding wheel and shipped to their home.

More than 75 percent of donations will go to fund renovations at the stadium, according to the website.

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