Consultant Suggests Turning Miami Arena Into Grand Central Facility
By Frank Norton
Miami Arena could better serve the community as a mass-transit hub than as a part-time entertainment venue, according to a study commissioned by the Miami Sports & Exhibition Authority.
Accounting firm Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant said the arena is in a perfect spot to link downtown commuters and tourists to Tri-Rail, Metrobus, Metrorail and Metromover – which could become an essential function for the city’s fast-growing resident base.
"The location offers one of the last remaining city-owned parcels where you could create this kind of Grand Central facility," firm principal Richard Berkowitz told the sports authority. "It is a critical piece of land."
He said the arena could be a great site for a mass-transit hub because of its proximity to Miami’s now-rising Performing Arts Center, American Airlines Arena and existing mass-transit routes.
The firm surveyed 17 cities to find out what is being done with older arenas in cities with multiple venues. The 16,600-seat Miami Arena, built in 1989, has been struggling since the NBA’s Miami Heat and the NHL’s Florida Panthers moved to newer homes.
Mr. Berkowitz said the idea to turn the arena into a mass-transit hub comes from Buffalo, NY, where planners are turning Buffalo Memorial Auditorium into a link for the city’s train, light rail and bus services. He says Miami Arena’s existing structure could be renovated in a similar way.
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said Tuesday that his staff had been discussing ways to improve transit links into downtown Miami.
"It seemed like all roads pointed to the Miami Arena," the mayor said, "so I said ‘what about a Grand Central station?’ If you look at it long-term, it’s definitely an option."