Miami Marine Stadium–Will the efforts of preservationists succeed in bringing back one of Florida’s best exemplars of modern architecture designed for speed boat racing?

This all-concrete stadium with wooden seating for 6,566 opened on December 27, 1963, on Virginia Key, Miami, Fla., on land donated by the prominent Mattheson family.  The design by a young and precocious architect for viewing speed boat racing was a unique, modern concrete structure with a concrete canopy the length of a football field, folded and cantilevered. Seating was wooden.

Designed by Cuban-born Hilario Candela, a 28-year-old architect, the stadium opened in 1963.
Designed by Cuban-born Hilario Candela, a 28-year-old architect, the stadium opened in 1963.

Total costs incurred in building the stadium amounted to approximately $2 million, with $1 million for construction of the structure and $900,000 for dredging the already shallow raceway by legendary marine and heavy construction firm J.B. Fraser and Sons. J.Ben Fraser had served as the critical director of procurement for the Florida Inland Navigation District of the right-of-way needed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the widening of the three-county strip of the Intracoastal Waterway needed by the federal government beginning in 1929.

From opening until closure on September 18, 1992, the stadium played host to speed boat races, music concerts, and even boxing matches.  The wind damage from Hurricane Andrew rendered the structure unsafe; city officials officially closed Candela’s masterpiece in architecture.  A non-profit organization of community leaders has assembled to raise the money needed to restore this masterpiece.

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