UPDATED: Efforts underway to save Miami Marine Stadium - an outdoor stadium built for Hydroplane racing - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

UPDATED: Efforts underway to save Miami Marine Stadium - an outdoor stadium built for Hydroplane racing

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It is a place with a storied history, an engineering marvel, and the only one of its kind in the world.  But today, the Miami Marine Stadium lies in ruins.  Vandals have stripped out wiring and plumbing - sold for its metal - and graffiti covers most of the walls and floors.

Now, a group made up of architects, boating sports enthusiasts, and historians is trying to save the structure.  They're called the "Friends of Miami Marine Stadium."

Friends of Stadium website >>

Miami Herald article on efforts >>
    Details efforts, include Video History

One of the proposals to save the Stadium includes a local artists idea to use "light art" to showcase the unique venue.  The colors and designs would change with each event to create excitement.

See Design Concepts for Stadium >>

The Stadium was built to showcase powerboat racing in the United States.  It could seat 7,500 and was built in 1963.  It was, in fact, built for hydroplane racing.  The stadium hosted world class boat racing events that included Unlimited Hydroplanes, but also included inboard, outboard, stock, mods and Grand Nationals.

There's a history there with the Unlimiteds that includes Bernie Little winning races in the Miss Budweiser.  And it includes a tragic day in 1974.

Jim McCormick ran the Red Man II there in 1974 when he was thrown from the cockpit.  He suffered a leg injury that would hobble him for a lifetime. 

Skipp Walther was asked to step in for McCormick.  During a test run, the boat had a rudder problem and flipped while going 100 mph.  The boat cartwheeled.  Walther died in the accident.

Over the years, politics got in the way.  Promotion and events declined.  The city leased out the stadium grounds to the rowing club, marinas and restaurants.  As development grew, boat racing withered.

A group tried to push the city to restore the structure to glory in the 1980's without success.  The last major race in the stadium was in 1987, when it hosted the Inboard Hydroplane national championships. 

U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison driver Steve David raced there for the first time in 1967.  "It's all a matter of economics," David told Powerboat Magazine.  "When you're talking about dollars and cents, it's a tough one."

Powerboat Magazine: 
   "Miami Marine Stadium needs to be saved from the wrecking ball" >>

Hurricane Andrew left the Stadium condemned.  Even though an independent engineering  study declared the structure sound - although in need of repairs - the Stadium has sit vacant ever since.

Archive Photos of racing and history at Miami Marine Stadium >>

Today, the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium is trying to get the stadium rennovated and re-opened. 

To that end, the group has put together a fundraiser for this weekend at the Miami Rowing Club. 

The group wants to avoid what happened to another Miami landmark, the Orange Bowl.

"It's the only thing like it in the world," David told Powerboat Magazine.
HI.com LIVE BLOG Comments >>

Is racing in Miami even a possibility any more?