Key Biscayne, activists watch closely as Boat Show begins

What do 100,000 people, 1,000 pilings and 450 docked boats have in common? These stadium1are the nightmares that plague the people in Key Biscayne as the Miami International Boat Show begins today at the long-abandoned Miami Marine Stadium and its environmentally sensitive surrounds.

When the county gave the go ahead for the boat show to use the property, it did so only to test the waters, so to speak, and see if the location could hold the crowds, traffic and environmental impact without too terribly disturbing residents who feel cut off from the mainland whenever an event comes to the Key.

Read related story: Boat Show battle comes to Miami-Dade for ‘temporary’ pass

That is why the village sent an email blast out Wednesday asking people to be “our eyes and ears on the ground” for the first ever boat show on Virginia Key Boat Show stadiumand share images and stories about their experiences during the next three to four days, the duration of the event. They want people to post photos of what they apparently expect to be a catastrophy and even created a hashtag — #BoatShowReality.

Here is what they said in the unsigned email:

“The Miami International Boat Show will officially begin this Thursday (February 11, 2016), raising questions as to how this large scale event will impact one of our community’s most delicate and sensitive ecosystems.

The Miami International Boat Show has already shown considerable disregard for this environmental habitat, creating serious concerns for what the next four days will bring:

  • Water taxis and boats crisscrossing through critical wildlife areas and manatee stadium4zones
  • Harmful shoreline erosion caused by hundreds of docked boats
  • Toxic litter polluting the water
  • Threats to endangered marine life

Following this event, the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County will decide whether or not to allow the Boat Show’s return to Virginia Key.  Help us keep them accountable by being our eyes and ears on the ground.

Share images on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #BoatShowReality or email them to”

Meanwhile, preservationists are hoping the event will help shed light on the unique historic significance of the iconic stadium.

Ladra remembers watching boat races and concerts at the Miami Marine Stadium in the 70s.

Ladra remembers watching boat races and concerts at the Miami Marine Stadium in the 70s.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Dade Heritage Trust are launching a petition to get public support for fulling restoring the stadium and will staff an informational kiosk throughout the Boat Show, which ends Monday.

Attendees can learn more about the history of the stadium and the National Trust is working with local artists to illuminate the stadium using projections of vintage footage.

They kiosk will also have copies of the petition — also available online at — which calls on the Miami City Commission to make the stadium restoration a priority this year.

The City of Miami has already committed more than $20,000,000 to make improvements to the land around the stadium, including the creation of a flex park. Additionally, the preservationists believe there are other positive developments that indicate that the restoration effort is gaining momentum:

  • A nomination to add the stadium to the National Register of Historic Places has been prepared for the U.S. Department of the Interior and is pending approval by the Miami City Commission. If named to the National Register, restoration work at the stadium stadium3would qualify for federal historic tax credits, which would reduce restoration costs by approximately $6 million.
  • The Miami City Commission created an advisory committee — on which both the Dade Heritage Trust and the National Trust serve — to help shape a long-term vision for Virginia Key, including a comprehensive business plan that includes the renovation and re-opening of Miami Marine Stadium to the public
  • In December, the city issued an RFQ for architectural and engineering services for the stadium. The response due date was recently extended to Wednesday, Feb. 17. 

I suppose we will have to see after the #BoatShowReality tour ends on Monday whether the event was a calamity or a catalyst for the restoration of a community gem.

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