Sun Life Stadium can’t squeeze in Youth Fair
Written by Meghan Mangrum on August 28, 2013
As the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Exposition reviews three potential new homes, including land beside the Sun Life Stadium owned in part by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, each presents various factors that make it more or less desirable.
A study ordered on behalf of the fair, the county and Florida International University was conducted last month and presented three possible sites that the fair could relocate to, including the Dolphin site, land on the former Homestead Air Force Base and undeveloped Hialeah land.
Markin Consulting of Maple Grove, MN, dug into fair operations and evaluated the impacts of relocating to each of these three sites based on several factors, including impact on attendance and cost to develop.
As far as development, any more would be pricey for the fair. The 335 acres at the Graham site in Hialeah is valued at $42 million and is currently undeveloped. There is minimal access to the site located between the Southeast Florida Turnpike extension, Northwest 170th Street and I-75 and currently there are no utilities on site, which would add an additional cost to development.
The Homestead land, valued at $49 million, consists of 344 acres of county parkland.
The value of 85 acres across three parcels surrounding the Sun Life Stadium is as yet unknown, though the fair could use stadium parking for its own purposes as well, the study said.
The fair has been at Southwest 24th Street and 107th Avenue on the west side of Tamiami Park for 40 years. In 2013, about 575,000 persons attended.
The study evaluated potential attendance rates based on the population within 10, 20 and 30 minutes of each location.
The Graham site is predicted to match current trends, with 500,000 to 600,000 annual visitors to the 18-day fair in March.
The Dolphin Site is predicted to draw 400,000 to 450,000 attendees, whereas the Homestead Site which is the farthest south within the target area, is seen drawing only 250,000 to 280,000 visitors.
The populations surrounding the two sites in north Miami-Dade don’t vary substantially from the current population size surrounding the fair. Presently, almost 2.5 million people live within 30 minutes of the fair site.
The Graham Site has more than 2.4 million people within half an hour of its location, and almost 3.5 million people live within the same distance from the Sun Life Stadium. Fewer than 1 million people – 993,147 to be exact – live within half an hour’s drive of the Homestead site, the study says.
The study cited other factors that would contribute to a decision on location.
Parking, which is always a worry in Miami-Dade, was estimated. The current location has 15,000 parking spots available, which the Graham Site could match. Sun Life Stadium offers 12,000, whereas the Homestead Site offers 7,000 available spots.
The study looked at crime rates in areas surrounding each location, saying that Hialeah has “high property crime rates, but low violent crime rates,” Homestead has equally high property crime rates on top of high violent crime rates, especially aggravated assault, and Miami Gardens, surrounding the Sun Life Stadium, has high rates in both categories and especially in murder and manslaughter.
Overall, the Graham Site was viewed as ready for development, though it would require substantial investment in wetland migration, road construction, freeway/toll-way interchanges and utilities/site preparation.
The Homestead Site is ready for development, the study says, but is in a higher crime rate location, which would increase security and insurance costs.
The study posited that the Sun Life Stadium parcels don’t offer enough space for the fair and its programming, which would lead to a scaled-down fair with smaller potential attendance.
The study was originally conducted to also explore the economic benefits to Florida International University in taking over the fair’s current site.
FIU says it would use the additional space for student housing, academics and research, support services and “partnership” space. FIU’s estimated construction cost is $900 million. The recurring benefit to the county economy is estimated at $541 million and the initial benefit $1.8 billion.
It is unknown when a decision to move the fair could come. The 2014 fair is March 13 to 30.