Miami city officials continue to delay action to reauthorize funding necessary for the long-awaited restoration of Miami Marine Stadium.
Miami Today reported the possible further delay of the funding in late March.
In February, city commissioners sidelined a resolution to reauthorize issuance of bonds to help pay for the restoration.
On Feb. 24 the commission was scheduled to vote on the funding measure but Commissioner Joe Carollo successfully deferred the vote after a lengthy explanation of why he wants to wait on restoration, which the commission originally approved in 2016.
Mr. Carollo encouraged the commission to direct city staff to prepare a cost analysis report on the restoration. His original directive was for staff to come back within 60 days “and give us a whole realistic outlook into the first five years on the cost to the city.”
That would have called for City Manager Art Noriega and his staff to report back as early as late April.
Mr. Noriega requested more time, asking for the matter to be deferred to the May 26 city commission meeting.
The May 26 meeting was rescheduled to last week. On May 31, the reauthorization of bond funding for the stadium was on the agenda but Mr. Noriega asked for another deferral – in fact, he requested an indefinite deferral.
The continued delay was predicted by a city staffer at the March 22 meeting of the Virginia Key Advisory Board.
Loraine Rosado-Pietrie, with the Office of Capital Improvements, offered an update on the status of the stadium project and said the staff might ask for further deferrals of the matter.
“They (commissioners) want to see a five-year pro forma (financials) report. We have an accountant working on those numbers,” she told the board.
Asked if the report would be ready by May, Ms. Rosado-Pietrie had said the matter may need to be deferred again as the city staff is awaiting much material from two outside sources, in order to have a complete report for the city commission.
“It is possible we will get it deferred further,” she told the board.
The city owns most of Virginia Key including the famous waterfront stadium, closed since 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.
At Mr. Carollo’s urging in February, Mr. Noriega was directed to study potential revenues and financial losses of proceeding with restoration and reopening the venue for concerts and other events.
Before the May 31 vote approving the indefinite deferral, Commissioner Ken Russell asked: “The indefinite deferral of RE1, will that slow down any of our progress on the Miami Marine Stadium?”
Mr. Noriega answered “No.”
He added, “The reason for the deferral is, there was a request by commission to come back with some financial analysis. It’s not actually finished yet, so before we bring this back for approval, we want to make sure that happens. It shouldn’t be a whole lot longer before that’s ready … we don’t anticipate too significant of a delay.”
An indefinite deferral could mean the matter doesn’t end up on an agenda for another six months.
After decades of neglect and no progress toward stadium restoration, the city commission in November 2016 approved $45 million bond borrowing for renovation and improvements.
In January 2017 the commission hired R.J. Heisenbottle Architects for architectural and engineering services related to the stadium. The most recent status report estimated costs at $47,803,022.
The proposed resolution that has now been twice deferred would have declared official intent “to issue tax-exempt and taxable special obligation bonds in the expected total maximum principal amount of … $61.2 million in order to, among other things, reimburse itself from the proceeds of such special obligation bonds for funds advanced by the city for certain expenses incurred with respect to certain capital improvements projects at the Miami Marine Stadium and the associated Welcome Center and Museum Complex.”
Mr. Carollo has cited increasing projected costs as a main concern. He said that several years ago when restoration was discussed he asked for a study of potential costs that he has yet to see.
The island property and stadium on the basin was conveyed in 1963 from Miami-Dade County to the City of Miami.
Mr. Carollo has suggested the city is not bound to restoring the stadium but could build other structures without triggering a clause that would hand the stadium site back to the county.