Always Faithful To The Marine

A grandstand off the coast of Miami – the Miami Marine Stadium – is awash in graffiti and disrepair. But some are passionate about bringing it back to life.

“Yeah, we are serious,” said Amy Freitag, director for U.S. programs at the World Monument Fund in New York. The nonprofit group works to save places with historic or architectural significance.

“This is a special and important and iconic place that is at risk. We can’t let this fall down. And it’s rare that you can mention the World Monuments Fund and Jimmy Buffett in the same sentence.”

The grandstand hosted Jimmy Buffett in 1985, the Boston Pops, Air Supply and was the site of a famous hug between Sammy Davis Jr. and Richard Nixon in 1972.

That moment, caught during a youth rally at the stadium during the Republican National Convention, surprised people who did not know Davis was a Republican supporter of the president.

It is also caught on film – the 1967 Elvis Presley movie “Clambake.”

The 6,566-seat venue is unique because of its fold-late roof, poured-in-place concrete construction and the illusion that it floats over the water of Biscayne Bay. Bands would perform on a floating stage.

Built in 1964, it’s on a watch list of 93 monuments threatened by neglect or overdevelopment for 2010. The list also includes venues like Machu Picchu and the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Miami Marine Stadium is an example of modernism, with its cantilevered and origami swan-like roof. It was shut down in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew damaged the roof.

“I have had feelings of anger both as a designer and as a Miamian,” said Hilario Candela, 75, who designed the structure when he was 28. The Cuban exile, a co-founder of Friends of Marine Stadium, is “saddened” by its current condition.

Mayor Manny Diaz expressed interest in restoring the stadium but his term runs out in November. Buffett put together a PSA in support of the venue.

“It’s a symbol of everything that’s great about Florida – boats, music, water and great Florida fun,” he says in the video.