Tourism Cares brings hundreds to restore and reopen Miami Marine Stadium

Architectural masterpiece and Florida national landmark positioned to generate jobs, revenue, and attract tourists

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado welcomes volunteers

May 30, 2014, 07:00 ET from Tourism Cares

MIAMI, May 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 325 travel and tourism executives from 29 states, four countries, and 83 companies are donating their time and energy today to support the campaign to restore and reopen Miami Marine Stadium, the architectural masterpiece and beloved Florida landmark, Tourism Cares announced today. The announcement was made this morning at the stadium by Mike Rea, president and CEO of Tourism Cares, where the organization is working with Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Virginia Key Beach Park Trust, City of Miami, and Miami-Dade County.

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado welcomed volunteers early today as they prepared for a full day of service at the iconic venue and in the nearby coastal areas in Virginia Key. Designed by Cuban-American architect Hilario Candela, the stadium was built and completed in 1963 on Virginia Key and was a centerpiece of the community for decades. Its 6,500 seats filled for powerboat races, political rallies, and concerts by Jimmy Buffett and others. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992 it fell to disuse and was scheduled for demolition before the local community rose up in protest, forming Friends of Miami Marine Stadium. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named the stadium a National Treasure in 2012.

Volunteers are today working alongside local Miami professionals and specialists to pick up and remove tree limbs, trash, and debris; remove vines; collect glass and loose concrete; and create a photographic survey of the visually arresting and culturally significant graffiti and street art inside the abandoned stadium. The work will immediately improve the venue's appearance and accessibility and support Friends of Miami Marine Stadium's fundraising and visibility campaign. In the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, the centerpiece of the 1000-acre underappreciated barrier island of wetlands, sea-grass beds, tidal and mud flats, and beach, volunteers are planting more than 12,000 grasses and trees; replacing non-native species with local hammock trees; and repairing nature trails inside the park.

"We are thrilled to welcome tourism professionals from around the world who volunteered through Tourism Cares to come to Miami to assist in the efforts to restore this unique, historic waterfront marine stadium that for decades created cherished memories for our residents and visitors alike," said William D. Talbert III, president and CEO of The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Tourism is Miami's #1 industry providing economic impact and jobs throughout our community every day.  Today, we are particularly excited to share the passion to restore this very special Miami tourism venue with so many of our industry colleagues knowing that their efforts are creating new memories for them and others for years to come."

"The Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation (CICF) is pleased to support the campaign to restore and reopen the Miami Marine Stadium, an iconic landmark in South Florida's rich history," said Michael J. McGarry, executive director of CICF. "The Miami Marine Stadium and Virginia Key need our care so these historic treasures can be enjoyed for generations to come, in addition to the potential for job creation, local revenue, and increased tourism for the area."

"We are tremendously grateful to Tourism Cares and the volunteers here today. Our goal is to create a unique, dynamic, and year-round public waterfront space and Tourism Cares is greatly enhancing our ability to raise awareness and restore the stadium," said Don Worth, co-founder of Friends of Miami Marine Stadium. "When a performer finished, everyone applauded, and people on hundreds of surrounding boats started blasting their horns—it was a peak experience. We will return this experience to the city of Miami and future generations of visitors."

Recognizing the power of volunteering to impress youth and bring families together, Tourism Cares for the first time launched a Saturday volunteering option for volunteers, inviting them to include their families following today's effort. 

"History is being made today and the tourism industry is again manifesting its care for place and depth of corporate social responsibility. We are proud to contribute to the stadium's future," said Mike Rea, president and CEO of Tourism Cares. "Tourism Cares is a movement, and all of our volunteers and their families feel emotionally affected by this tremendous experience of service and partnership." 

"Every city has a building that is emblematic of its culture and history. New York has the Empire State Building and Paris has the Eiffel Tower. For Miami, that building is the Ralph Munroe Marine Stadium, a modernist concrete structure that was designed to bring Miamians closer to one of their city's most prized asset—the water," said Jason Clement, the National Trust for Historic Preservation's director of community outreach and project manager for Miami Marine Stadium. "A reinvented Miami Marine Stadium would be an economic boon for the Virginia Key, reinvigorating the area as a destination where locals and tourists alike could enjoy Miami from one of its most unique vantage points. At the National Trust, we are committed to making that vision a reality."

Tourism Cares is grateful to Friends of Miami Marine Stadium; The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau; Historic Virginia Key Beach Park Trust; the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County; and lead sponsors The Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation and Royal Caribbean International, Azamara Club Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises. Tourism Cares thanks sponsors Adara; Amadeus North America; American Bus Association; Aon Affinity/Berkely Travel; Entertainment Cruises; Expedia; Halo Branded Solutions; Hickory Global Partners; MSC Cruises; MaCher; NTA; Norwegian Cruise Line; Rome McGuigan Attorneys at Law; Signature Travel Network; Smart Destinations Inc.; Tauck; USTOA; and Worldwide Transportation.

History of the "Tourism Cares for America" program
Created in the aftermath of September 11th, Tourism Cares for America brings together the tourism industry to give back to American icons in need of care. Volunteer restorations have united nearly 4,000 travel industry professionals who have donated 31,189 hours at a value of $600,000 at culturally and historically significant destinations such as Ellis Island, New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport, Gettysburg, Valley Forge, Plymouth, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and the Grand Canyon.

Announcing Tourism Cares for USS Iowa
Tourism Cares will continue to leverage its legacy of service and citizenship to help bring back to life the USS IOWA, The Battleship of Presidents, and contribute to the development of the LA Waterfront in the Port of Los Angeles and Catalina Island. The battleship was designated the "World's Greatest Naval Ship" because of its artillery, armor, speed, longevity, and modernization. Tourism Cares will partner with Pacific Battleship Center, the local organization maintaining the museum ship and memorial recognizing "the positive contributions of this battleship and its crew at critical moments in American history."

Learn more and engage with us on Facebook; on Twitter at: @TourismCares; on Instagram at: @Tourismcares; and follow #TourismCaresMiami.

About Tourism Cares
Tourism Cares preserves and enhances the travel experience for future generations. We channel the philanthropic passion and commitment of the travel industry to protect and restore valuable destinations we all care about—and to support those destinations as engines for prosperity, civil society, and pride in their communities. Our domestic programs focus on industry-wide volunteer events, capacity building for the nonprofit stewards of tourism sites, and scholarships and mentoring to support a talented workforce.  Globally, our efforts include corporate social responsibility partnerships, strategic investments, and advocacy and education across the travel industry. For more:

SOURCE Tourism Cares