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Miami Marine Stadium Architect Relives His Vision

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The Ralph Middleton Munroe Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key was the first purpose-built venue for powerboat racing in the United States. (Source: marinestadium.org)

The Ralph Middleton Munroe Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key was the first purpose-built venue for powerboat racing in the United States. (Source: marinestadium.org)

David-Sutta-600x450 David Sutta
David Sutta joined the CBS4 news team in April of 2007. As S...
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MIAMI (CBS4) — Just across the bay from the reinvented Miami skyline the Miami Marine Stadium has sat in ruin.

It has been neglected nearly 20 years and the landmark was to be demolished not once, but twice.

“There is nothing like this anywhere in the world,” said Hilario Candela,the architect of the stadium.

Candela dreamed up this place 51 years ago.  He was 28 at the time.

“When this thing was done did you realize what you had done,” asked CBS4’s David Sutta.  Candela’s reply was a chuckling, “probably not.”

Candela took CBS4 on a tour of his stadium now covered top to bottom in graffiti.

“It is just like taking a wonderful painting and having another wonderful artist come and paint over the existing painting.  In that case it hurts me,” said Candela.

The mark Candela left underneath all the paint was dramatic.  The building is full of architectural firsts.

“The whole idea here was to create a piece of sculpture.  Living sculpture,” he added.

Candela created a venue that was in itself an attraction.  For three decades it played host to concerts, races, and graduations.

“I remember one day seeing Jimmy Buffet.  (Jimmy Buffet, really, asked Sutta.) He launched his big career here.”

It fell out of favor though in 1992.

Miami, looking to unload a financial burden, shut it down.

It stayed that way until this Thursday, July 11.  Miami commissioners gave approval to a $30 million plan to save this South Florida treasure, with private dollars.

Singer Gloria Estefan lent her voice to the campaign.  After five and half years, dozens of grass root organizations including the National Trust for Historical Preservation, Candela’s vision is coming back to life.

“It feels absolutely great.  It makes me feel much younger,” said Candela.

This time the plan is even grander, with parks, water shows, and lots of imagination.

“It will be better because our intention is not to just restore this so that it looks like it did exactly in 1962 or 1963.  Our intention is not to mummify this building.  Our intention is to bring it back to the active role it had in the 60’s and way beyond,” said Candela.

If the plans are successful, the stadium will re-open sometime in 2015 or 2016.

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