Virginia Key & Marine Stadium


Virginia Key – related posts on

Marine Stadium – related posts on

Save Virginia Key – this site details opposition to the Boat Show

Friends of Miami Marine Stadium

View from Virginia Key – 2010 blog to raise awareness about Virginia Key by Blanca Mesa

Virginia Key Master Plan


Virginia Key marina plan under microscope

Miami Today 1/3/17

Public marinas on Virginia Key lose a bit of controversy

Miami Today 12/20/16

One of the most controversial aspects of plans to redevelop public marinas on Virginia Key – allowing wet slips in the larger historic basin fronting Miami Marine Stadium – is no longer being considered.

That was made clear in documents provided to the Virginia Key Advisory Board and reviewed by members Monday.

Miami Marine Stadium can be saved, architect says

Miami Today 12/20/16

Aged, worn and abandoned, Miami Marine Stadium can be saved. That’s the opinion of the head of an architectural firm City of Miami officials plan to hire to help save the waterfront structure.

Miami to borrow $45 million to restore historic Marine Stadium

Miami Herald 11/17/16

Miami commissioners voted Thursday to borrow up to $45 million to restore historic Marine Stadium, pushing the city as close as it’s ever been to starting a project that has been batted around for years.

Is city ready to fulfill broken pledge for ‘world-class’ park at Miami Marine Stadium?

Miami Herald 9/29/16

Almost a year after the city of Miami hurriedly spent $18 million to accommodate the Miami International Boat Show at the historic Miami Marine Stadium’s vast parking lot, administrators said they will seek to hire a “world-class” design firm to develop a blueprint for a long-promised public “flex-park” at the site.

[Virginia Key Advisory] Board members received copies [of the RFQ] during their monthly meeting this week, but said they needed more time to consider it and scheduled a one-hour public workshop for Oct. 25.

Miami officials will study city managing Virginia Key marinas

Miami Today 7/26/16

Miami officials are preparing to study the feasibility of the city itself managing its Virginia Key marinas.

This comes in the wake of contentious bidding that had three companies fighting each other and the city over the right to build and maintain marinas on the barrier island.

Marinas on Virginia Key get rejection slip

Miami Today, 7/5/16

Start from scratch. That’s the advice to Miami city commissioners from the new Virginia Key Advisory Board, to throw out all pending proposals for marinas on Virginia Key and start again from square one.

No soccer at the Miami Marine Stadium Flex Park

Miami Today 5/17/16

Mr. Alfonso said staff believed it was possible to convert the space back to a turf-covered area, but when they began work to bury footings for the large tents and put in the drainage fields “things came up.”

Because of a change in elevation at the site, it would be very difficult to make the area into level playing fields, “so we started looking at other options,” he said.

“Our intent is to come up with an organized plan,” Mr. Alfonso said of the open space. He said some groups have expressed interest in using the tents and the site, including one planning a Dolphins fan fest. The space could also be used for auto shows, a home show or events tied to Art Basel, he said.  “We’ll put a calendar together,” Mr. Alfonso said of events for the flex park.

Mr. Alfonso said he will discuss with the new board members “how to best activate that space.”  It is one of several issues to be considered by the new board.

Reject wet slips at Miami Marine Stadium basin

Miami Herald Letter to the Editor 5/21/16

The proposal for the Virginia Key Harbour and Marine Center by RCI Group differs significantly from the Virginia Key Master Plan approved unanimously by the Miami City Commission in 2010.

10,000-foot injection well could change how Miami flushes

Miami Herald 4/8/16

Due to changes in state law, Miami-Dade’s water and sewer department has nine years to stop pumping most of the 300 million gallons of treated waste generated each day miles out into the ocean through outfall pipes. Much of that waste water, called effluent, has to be highly cleansed and re-purposed. But in a county with more than 2 million users, officials say the only way to fully comply with the new law without breaking the bank is to dispose of up to hundreds of millions of gallons of treated waste by shooting it into a cavernous, confined saltwater zone down below South Florida’s drinking supply.

Geologists are exploring the murky world beneath the county’s oldest sewage treatment facility on Virginia Key in search of a safer, cheaper method of sewage disposal. They believe if they can inject effluent farther away from South Florida’s aquifers and deep into the bowels of the earth, they can dramatically lower the cost of doing business.

But some are still wary of injection wells, which under different classifications can also be used to dispose of industrial waste or for fracking. Florida is the only state that allows Class I municipal injection wells for effluent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  In Miami-Dade, memories of municipal wells in South Dade leaking ammonia into the brackish Upper Floridan aquifer are still fresh. Those leaks didn’t contaminate any drinking water supplies, but they did push the county into a legal settlement with the federal government, and force the state to change laws regulating Class I injection wells to require a high — and expensive — level of treatment for injected effluent.

Key Biscayne Mayor: Miami Politicos “Were Bullshitting All Along” About Promised Park

Miami New Times 4/1/16

For the past two years, the City of Miami has tried hard to persuade the public and politicians in Key Biscayne to back its plans for hosting the Miami International Boat Show on Virginia Key. Central among the city’s pledges was to create a public park on part of the waterfront land developed for the event. The “Flex Park” was to be built within 31 days of the show’s end, Miami vowed.  But 46 days have passed since the boat show, and the space remains a slab of asphalt. And Village of Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Lindsay has her own theory about the supposed park: It was bunk from the beginning.

Environmental activist and Friends of Virginia Key founder Blanca Mesa says the delay should be considered an urgent opportunity to try to build something better in a city woefully lacking public parklands….  “It wasn’t going to be a real park to begin with,” Mesa says. “So let’s tear up all the asphalt and create a real one.”

Miami breaks promise to open waterfront park after boat show

Miami Herald 3/25/16

When city of Miami officials hurriedly embarked on an expensive project last year to create a new home on Virginia Key for the Miami International Boat Show, part of their sales pitch to the public was that for much of the year the 15-acre venue would be converted into a park.

They released images of soccer fields east of the Miami Marine Stadium and displayed a sample of synthetic grass at City Hall. They even inserted language into their agreement with the boat show that they’d cover a portion of the $24 million venue in artificial turf and open it to the public within 31 days of the conclusion of the massive marine industry trade show.

But 31 days came and went on March 17 with nary a blade of fake grass or soccer ball in sight. As of Thursday, the venue was reserved for Miami Open tennis tournament parking.

Boat show impact feels like a hangover

Miami Herald 2/20/16

[T]here is no appropriate decision, but to relocate the boat show to a more appropriate venue next year.

With one road in and one road out, traffic presented a major obstacle that was only overcome after spending close to $1 million. Access to the public waterfront was shuttered for weeks. Litter was left strewn across our shoreline and the event’s flawed water taxi system had people waiting in line for hours and exposed Biscayne Bay’s fragile ecosystem as they crisscrossed through sensitive marine life.

Virginia Key guardians face city vote

Miami Today 11/22/15

Five years after it was first recommended, the City of Miami is one vote away from creating an advisory group to help steer the future of Virginia Key.

Miami-Dade commission delays vote on crucial permit for boat show dock

The Real Deal 11/17/15

The Miami-Dade County Commission on Tuesday postponed its vote to issue a permit and grant a variance that would allow the Miami International Boat Show to install a floating dock with 830 boat slips and other floating structures, as well as use water taxis to ferry people in the waters off Virginia Key.

The county commission’s delay is the latest development in the ongoing war, pitting the village of Key Biscayne and environmentalists against the city of Miami and boat show operator National Marine Manufacturers Association regarding the annual event. The boat show is scheduled to take place at the Miami Marine Stadium site in Virginia Key in early February.

Miami-Dade Commission to consider Boat Show permit

Miami Herald 11/13/15

The saga between Key Biscayne, the city of Miami and the Miami International Boat Show will travel to county hall Tuesday when county commissioners consider an environmental permit that would allow one of the largest marine trade shows in the country to be hosted on Virginia Key.

Boat Show a bad fit for Virginia Key

Miami Herald 11/9/15

The village has always supported activating the Marine Stadium site so long as its uses are in line with the city’s own Virginia Key Master Plan, which was the culmination of years of community input and respects the deed restrictions on the land. Any agreement that opens the door to a commercial component on this land should also create new park space, limit the intensity of private use and protect the island’s natural habitat. In addition, any plan should include a road map for renovating the historic Miami Marine Stadium.

Unfortunately, the city’s vision is not consistent with these principles. By committing the site to large-scale events, including the Boat Show, for a significant portion of the year, residents and visitors will be cut off from one of Miami-Dade’s most popular recreation areas. Creation of a new “flex park” is a farce if the public lacks access to the park for months at a time.

Key Biscayne pulls out of Marine Stadium settlement with Miami

Miami Herald 10/7/15

On the eve of Thursday’s Miami Commission meeting, the village of Key Biscayne backed out of a proposed settlement agreement that would have quashed three lawsuits related to Miami’s courtship of the Miami International Boat Show at the stadium. Under the terms of the deal, the village would have paid for half the cost of a stadium renovation and an event space on Virginia Key, to the tune of $31 million. The city would in turn have placed the governance of the public site in the hands of a private conservancy controlled equally by board members appointed by Miami and Key Biscayne.

The compromise would have given the city badly needed funding for a restoration of its historic stadium, and empowered the village to possibly force the Boat Show to find a new home after a 2017 event. But Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Peña Lindsay said the village declared an impasse after determining that “certain demands from the City are simply at odds with the Village’s core values” of protecting the surrounding environment and limiting the intensity of the site’s use.

Key Biscayne, Miami near settlement over boat show lawsuits

Miami Herald 10/5/15

According to a proposed settlement agreement released Monday by village officials, Key Biscayne and the city of Miami would jointly operate the facility next to the Miami Marine Stadium through a semi-independent park conservancy, as long as the village pays about half the cost of the project. The possible agreement, forged through seven mediation sessions dating back to April, also splits the $37.5 million cost of the long-sought restoration of the historic marine stadium.

The settlement — which the city argued last week is confidential under state law until signed — could go before the Miami City Commission for a vote Thursday, and possibly the Key Biscayne Village Council the following day. However, as of Monday, the mayors of both municipalities indicated they were uncomfortable with the current state of discussions.

Miami Boat Show move to Virginia Key


Marine Stadium ‘flex park’ to cost city extra $4 million

Miami Herald 9/2/15

The city of Miami may have to spend an extra $4 million to create a controversial outdoor event space on Virginia Key that meets the needs of the Miami International Boat Show.

In a memo sent Tuesday to city commissioners, Miami’s city manager explained that initial estimates of a $16 million project were well short of the actual cost. To complete the facilities with the amenities needed by the operators and exhibitors of the massive marine trade event, the city needs to invest more in electrical upgrades.

Miami congresswoman calls for public hearing on Miami boat show permit

Miami Herald 8/25/15

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday to hold a public hearing before making a final decision on a permit to allow the city of Miami to host the Miami International Boat Show on Virginia Key.

Controversial Boat Show Map Disregards Manatee Zones and Critical Wildlife Areas

Miami New Times 7/10/15

The Boat Show says they will control traffic on the Rickenbacker Causeway in part by providing water taxis, but the planned routes go through the Bill Sadowski Critical Wildlife Area where not even canoes are allowed as well as through manatee protection zones where boats must go slowly.  Taking boats through the CWA is of course unacceptable and the routes will have to be changed, but it would be impractical to avoid the manatee protection zones and slow speeds there could make the water taxis ineffective transportation to Virginia Key.


City of Miami blames contractor in Marine Stadium mangrove destruction

Miami Herald 7/9/15

“Our contractor was instructed to remove exotic tree species out there. Amongst those there were mangroves,” Bravo told Carollo. “The contractor mistakenly removed mangroves among the species removed. The contractor has agreed to take responsibility for his actions.”

The city is currently working with the county to correct the illegal removal of mangroves.

Miami cuts Virginia Key mangroves to make way for boat show

Miami Herald 6/26/15

City of Miami workers ripped out red and black mangroves from about 300 feet of shoreline to make way for the International Boat Show at the Marine Stadium.

Cutting mangroves without a permit is illegal.  A Miami-Dade County environmental regulator discovered the blunder in late May when he showed up to check out a pile of tree debris just west of the stadium.

Miami Boat Show powers on amid uncertainty

Miami Herald 6/20/15

Their vision is expansive. The Boat Show will take over the north side of the Rickenbacker Causeway, hauling in 1,500 boats, including about 500 in the water. A Medley company is installing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, and erecting massive tents spanning about 800,000 square feet. And the company that manages the Rusty Pelican is running food and beverage sales for the event from their waterfront restaurant east to the Miami Rowing Club.

To get 100,000 people in and out over five days, organizers want to park about 4,000 drivers on Virginia Key Beach, and ferry thousands more from the mainland with water taxis and shuttles from more than a dozen lots. Meanwhile, police will help keep one lane of traffic open for local drivers and help control traffic on the entrance to the causeway.

Village loses Marine Stadium appeal to Miami Commission, will appeal again

Key Biscayne Islander News 5/24/15

The Village lost its appeal to the Miami City Commission on the Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board’s approval for a Marine Stadium flex park to host the Miami International Boat Show, and will now take its case to Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

Bottom line, Huber said, the HEP Board was given incomplete information for an “improperly and inappropriately fast-tracked” hearing – without all the facts, supporting documents and more, she said, there was no way the board could make a valid decision.

On top of that, Huber and Pena Lindsay said, at the time of the HEP Board hearing the City Commission hadn’t even discussed long-term plans for operation or management of the Marine Stadium – in fact, an item to do so was on last week’s agenda with the Village’s appeal.

Boat Show’s gloves come off in fight with Key Biscayne

Miami Herald 6/3/15

For months, the Boat Show has taken hits from Key Biscayne, where elected officials say the massive event planned on the grounds of the Miami Marine Stadium and in the stadium basin will jam the Rickenbacker Causeway with traffic and overwhelm ecologically sensitive areas on Virginia Key. The village also sued the NMMA, alleging that the trade association was hiding public records.

For the most part, Boat Show representatives have dismissed accusations but focused on promoting the upcoming event at Marine Stadium rather than sparring publicly with Key Biscayne officials.  Until this week, when the NMMA sent out a press release accusing the village of launching “an aggressive campaign of mistruths” that could derail one of the region’s largest conventions.

Create an urban gateway to Biscayne National Park

Miami Herald 6/2/15 Letter to the Editor by Blanca Mesa

Biscayne National Park’s expansion to Virginia Key with a visitor center at the Miami Marine Stadium would link the natural and historic heritage of the Miami region and help foster and fund the restoration and protection of important historic and cultural sites and facilities, such as the historic Virginia Key Beach Park, an 82-acre public park that played a critical role in the nation’s civil rights history…

A wiser investment of the $16 million the city is borrowing for its “flex-park” of asphalt and astro-turf would be to consult with experts on how to build a climate resilient shoreline incorporating native plantings and natural contouring of the sand dunes to protect this island from storm surge and further erosion as sea level rise accelerates.

Plan for boat show at Miami Marine Stadium advances

Miami Herald 5/14/15

Despite strong objections from environmentalists and Key Biscayne residents, Miami commissioners held fast Thursday and rejected an appeal challenging plans to build an $18 million park and event space on the grounds of Miami Marine Stadium.

Environmental groups challenge Miami International Boat Show plans

South Florida Business Journal 5/13/15

The groups have challenged an application submitted by the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association (NMMA) for a 5-year permit to construct temporary docking facilities in the Miami Marine Stadium basin.

The letter lists many concerns but mainly argues that Virginia Key and the basin should not be used for a major development like the boat show. They also say the temporary docks will negatively impact endangered wildlife such as manatees. They have requested a public hearing before the application can be approved or denied.

Fed environmental review adds to Miami boat show move questions

Miami Herald 5/6/15

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — in an initial review of plans to build floating docks and walkways big enough to cover more than four football fields — found that the project would cause “substantial” harm to Biscayne Bay bottom where fish and other marine life live. The docks would be left in place for up to three months, long enough to block sunlight vital to seagrass and affect other species in about 55.45 acres of the bay, the Corps said in a response to a request for a federal permit for the work.

The Corps’ response seemed to mystify both critics and supporters, who said they only learned this week of the month-old document, which is a request for public comment before the agency issues a final decision. The comment period ends Friday. Corps officials were not available for comment.

Key Biscayne files lawsuit against Miami International Boat Show organizer

South Florida Business Journal 4/24/15

The complaint, filed Wednesday, alleges that the NMMA violated Florida’s open government public records law by withholding documents from Key Biscayne that could reveal a licensing agreement with the city of Miami to continue planning for next year’s boat show at Miami Marine Stadium.

Key Biscayne filed a different lawsuit against the city earlier this year, seeking to stop $16 million in improvements to the venue that would allow the boat show to relocate there in 2016. The village’s council says the city is improving Miami Marine Stadium not just for the boat show, but for other shows during the year, which could lead to potentially dangerous congestion along the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Most recently, Key Biscayne filed an emergency injunction against the city, ordering it to stop construction at Miami Marine Stadium. Construction kicked off Feb. 10. Key Biscayne says the stadium is zoned as park space, not commercial event space, and alleges that construction there is illegal until the lawsuits against the city regarding the land are settled.

Miami juggles lawsuit, deadlines in Marine Stadium efforts

Miami Herald 4/9/15

By a 4-0 vote, commissioners gave the boat show’s operators more time — about three months — to set up and break down on the stadium grounds… They also accepted $1.6 million from boat show parent National Marine Manufacturers Association to cover costs for additional upgrades beyond the $16 million the city is already spending to create a paved, utility-lined outdoor event space that can facilitate the show’s main event.  Together, those actions could be interpreted as a deeper commitment between the city and boat show, which is operating on a year-to-year agreement.

The juggling act at Miami City Hall Thursday was due in part to dueling pressures the city is facing to come up with a plan for stadium renovations, and to avoid potentially costly litigation with the Village of Key Biscayne. Village officials believe Miami is going to lure a host of high-grossing, causeway-clogging events to its new $16 million facility and filed a lawsuit in February seeking to stop the project.

Miami International Boat Show cries poor, asks for state money

Miami Herald 3/13/15

The company behind the Miami International Boat Show, touted as as a major economic generator for South Florida, is asking for more than $1 million in state money and saying it will bleed red for years due to the event’s move from Miami Beach to Virginia Key.

Miami commission approves Boat Show deal, asks FDLE to probe police shootings

Miami Herald 1/8/15

The city of Miami will spend up to $16 million over the next year to upgrade the grounds outside historic Miami Marine Stadium and host the Miami International Boat Show on Virginia Key in early 2016.

Commissioners voted Thursday to authorize a bond issue to pay for improvements to a 15-acre area outside the waterfront stadium, including seven undeveloped acres to the east of the shuttered venue that will be paved, lined with utilities and covered with artificial turf. Shortly after, they approved a license agreement with the not-for-profit that owns the boat show, which will pay the city $1.1 million per year in rent plus half of net concessions and parking sales from the five-day event.

Thursday’s vote came just weeks after commissioners and administrators shot down a proposal by preservation group Friends of Miami Marine Stadium to use private money to redevelop the area surrounding the stadium and fund a $30 million renovation of the iconic structure. The group brought the Miami International Boat Show to the table as an anchor tenant whose rent would help fund part of the $121 million project.

Miami Boat Show considers ‘long-term’ Marine Stadium deal

Miami Herald 11/13/14

The true headliners of Thursday’s event were the stadium itself and representatives of the Miami International Boat Show, who during a press conference amid the stadium’s torn out seats and shattered beer bottles formally announced intentions to hold the massive tourist draw at the graffiti-covered Virginia Key venue in 2016 and 2017. They also acknowledged they’re “exploring the site as a long-term home” away from Miami Beach.

The massive boat show, which says it attracts 100,000 boaters and generates $600 million in economic activity every Presidents’ Day weekend, would be the concrete waterfront stadium’s first tenant since Hurricane Andrew slammed its doors shut in 1992. With a multi-year deal, the show would also be a solid anchor for a $30 million stadium restoration project by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, which are pursuing a long-term lease with the city.




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