State Rejects Miami Plan To Build Park To Host X Games
By Suzy Valentine
The Florida Department of Transportation has vetoed a proposal by Miami city officials to build an extreme-sports park at Interstate 95 and State Road 836, saying it might need the land for highway expansion and activities there could distract motorists.
The 11-acre site between southbound I-95 and the 836, also known as the Dolphin Expressway, had been considered a possible site to host ESPN’s X Games.
"We have had a preliminary response which could not allow construction of anything permanent in the event that (the department) needs to expand its expressways," said David Rosemond, chief of staff for City Manager Joe Arriola. "The department also had some concerns that any construction or use would distract drivers – for example, if they saw kids jumping up and down."
Mr. Rosemond said the city hasn’t ruled out building an extreme-sports park elsewhere.
"We were very excited about the idea in an area that would present a very attractive venue for kids to perform and watch. We had envisioned a cool place for kids to hang out. It would be a wonderful thing to offer young people who are fanatical about extreme sports," he said. "The challenge is to find another site with the same opportunities but not the same difficulties."
City officials had proposed a structure that could be dismantled if the department needed to expand the highways, but that was rejected, Mr. Rosemond said. "We suggested a temporary structure, but the department was just as concerned that drivers would get distracted and that it would ultimately become liable for any accidents arising from that distraction. We agree that it’s a very legitimate concern."
Mr. Rosemond said the city is weighing other options but has more pressing considerations.
"The initiative has been spearheaded by the Neighborhood Enhancement Team, which is now looking at alternative sites. But obviously, the city has major projects of a higher priority."
It’s unclear whether the setback could jeopardize Miami’s bid to host the X Games for the next two years. The city is competing against Boston and Los Angeles, and although a decision is imminent, there is no firm deadline for the selection.
"The summer games are set to take place in May 2005," said ESPN spokeswoman Maria Elles Scott. "We should learn the venue any time soon, but there’s no set date for the announcement."
The games move every two years. Los Angeles hosted the X Games in August for the second year after Miami made an unsuccessful bid for the event. Other host cities in the event’s 10 years have been Providence, RI; San Diego; San Francisco and Philadelphia.