Arts Season
6:00 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Speed Boat Racing, Jimmy Buffett, Graffiti Art: A Half Century At The Miami Marine Stadium

The Miami Marine Stadium has been through several incarnations over the past five decades, and the latest is the subject of a new exhibit at the Coral Gables Museum.

Concrete Paradise: Miami Marine Stadium, opening Oct. 17, traces the building’s distinctive history, from its early days as a speed boat racing venue to today as a giant, graffiti canvas and parkour playground.

RELATED: How Miami’s National Treasure Was Abandoned, And Why It Might Be Coming Back

The city originally built the stadium for speed boat racing, which curator Rosa Lowinger says was the sport Miami was known for long before the Miami Heat’s Three Kings.

Poster of Elvis Presley’s "Clambake," which was partially filmed at the Miami Marine Stadium.
Poster of Elvis Presley’s "Clambake," which was partially filmed at the Miami Marine Stadium.
Credit courtesy of Rosa Lowinger

“At this time in history, the 1960s, as Miami was becoming the world center for this sport, we had no place that was appropriate for the sport, and racers were getting hurt,” said Lowinger.

Apparently, boaters would run into coconuts and other debris in the open water which, according to Lowinger, can be dangerous at high speeds.

Architectural Marvel Or Mirror?

The stadium is also a feat of design and engineering. When it opened, the stadium’s roof was the longest piece of cantilevered concrete in the world, stretching as far as a football field over the grandstand.

Designed by a young, Cuban immigrant, Hilario Candela, Lowinger feels the stadium reflects the Miami story in more ways than one.

“Miami and the Marine stadium have lived the same life—misguided management, abandonment and emergence of an art culture,” said Lowinger.

The stadium has been shuttered since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which made it fertile ground for Miami’s budding graffiti and street art movement.

RELATED: Miami Photographer Captures Changing Canvas Of Iconic Marine Stadium

In honor of the stadium’s most recent life, the exhibit does include original graffiti art alongside archival photographs and a speed boat.

Concrete Paradise: Miami Marine Stadium opens Oct. 17 at the Coral Gables Museum and runs through January 5.