MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the first time in 20 years, the hurricane-damaged seats at the Miami Marine Stadium could be filled with spectators, as the Miami Marine Stadium enters into a tentative deal to host the Miami International Boat Show for at least 2016 and 2017.
Wooing the Miami International Boat Show has been a courtship of at least five years, said Marine Stadium Architect Hilario Candela. Although the agreement won’t be officially announced until Thursday, Candela said the effort finally paid off when the boat show decided to relocate due to construction at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
“That was a tremendous thrill,” said Candela. ”I forgot if we yelled in English or Spanish. I forgot. Probably both. It brings back a lot of dreams and lot of aspirations of a lot of people in Miami.”
Candela has been around from the glory days when boat races and performers, like Jimmy Buffet, Ray Charles and Gloria Estefan, filled the seats. He’s also been around to watch the venue, a favorite of graffiti artists, fall into disrepair and even survive Hurricane Andrew.
A complete restoration, including the addition of a green space and restaurants, is planned, but it will take an estimated $30 million.
“We’re essentially restoring this so it will look more beautiful than it ever did and pay homage to what it did the first day that it opened,” said Jorge Hernandez, the co-founder of the Friends of the Miami Marina. “We have commitments in excess of $10 to 12 million. That really means we have about half the money committed. “
The Friends of the Miami marina said it needs public support and funding to seal the deal. The City of Miami won’t grant a lease unless the money is there.
“At this point, there is no commitment to commit dollars from the city,” said Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso. “It is a plan where it is supposed to be self-sufficient.”
The Friends of the Marine Stadium hope the City of Miami will grant the lease on December 11th. Time is of the essence because boat show organizers plan to start with show preparations on Dec. 15th.