Miami may develop park to use in X Games pitch
By Susan Stabley
Miami officials are eyeing 11 acres under a tangle of highways for use as a park for ESPN's extreme sports or X Games competitions, said City Manager Joe Arriola.
If developed as a sports park it would primarily be used by children, Mr. Arriola said, and could double as a venue for ESPN's X Games if Miami is chosen as a host city.
The triangular parcel is in the middle of southbound Interstate 95, State Road 836 and an off-ramp.
The city has been in talks with the sports channel, which has produced the competition featuring athletes that excel in skateboarding, surfing, stunt biking and other action events for 10 years.
Miami was a finalist for X Games 9 and 10, losing out to Los Angeles, according to X Games spokeswoman Melissa Gullotti.
The games move to a different city every two years. Past host cities have been Providence, RI; San Diego; San Francisco, and Philadelphia.
"We were incredibly impressed with the City of Miami," Ms. Gullotti said Friday. "We definitely love the city."
But no decision has been made for the next pair of games, she said. Instead, organizers are focused on the 10 annual event scheduled for Aug. 5-8. After that, the process begins anew to choose the next host, with site selection expected before the end of the year, she said.
Talks are under way with other cities, Ms. Gullotti said, and it would be up to Miami to "reinstate those conversations" with ESPN.
Mr. Arriola said he didn't have an estimate on how much it would cost to create a park at the I-95 site, but the city must first acquire the property from the Florida Department of Transportation.
The city has previously requested the land, proposing to use it for a skateboard park, but was denied for "operational reasons", according to Vince Reuben of the Florida Department of Transportation.
When asked about making the park friendly for skateboarding, Mr. Arriola said the land would be better suited for dirt biking.
Discussions over the land have returned recently, said Paul Wilson, transportation department administrator over surplus property. Any new pitch for the parcel must address safety concerns because of the proximity of the highways.
"We have significant concerns and they need to be addressed," Mr. Wilson said.
The transportation department also uses ponds on the property to collect run-off from rain.
City officials have already done studies on the parcel's ponds.
"We did a test," Mr. Arriola said. "It's good water in the middle of a dump."