Special to South Florida Times
The construction noise has ceased. The artificial turf has been laid. A new, bigger running track has been installed.
The installation of a new stadium at the city of Miami’s Moore Park in Allapattah is complete.
On Sunday, many who had a hand in reshaping the storied park will come together, cut a ribbon and declare the facility ready for the community.
Moore Park Manager Tyrone Miller and Orange Bowl Committee Vice Chairman Ford Gibson will be among them. Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, City Commissioner Richard P. Dunn and commissioners from the Pacific-10 (PAC-10) and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) are expected to attend.
PAC and ACC are home conferences to 2011 Discover Orange Bowl teams Stanford and Virginia Tech, teams that will play Monday at Sun Life Stadium.
Starting at 2 p.m., Allapattah residents will be able to get their first look at Orange Bowl Field at Moore Park, 765 NW 36th St. A cookout and entertainment for children are planned.
“For as long as I am around, this is has been one of the most exciting things we have ever done, because we can see how this will pay off for the neighborhood in the long term,” said Gibson, who has served 11 years in various capacity for the volunteer Orange Bowl Committee. “It was not a very nice field.”
Besides new turf on the field and a larger running track, residents will see a 1,500 aluminum-seat bleacher stadium, a press box with a public address system, an electronic scoreboard, improved field lighting, locker rooms and a concessions area and two new bathrooms.
A small number of local preschool children have already seen the finished project. The committee brought them for a tour on Dec. 15 as part of a series of athletics and community events and programs it hosted recently.
Notable professional athletes who perfected their game at a young age at Moore Park include Chad Javon Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals, Thaddeus Lewis of the St. Louis Rams, retired baseball infielder Leonard Anthony Harris, former Miami Hurricane Darryl Sharpton now with the Houston Texans and Leeland “Lee” Corso, a sports broadcaster and football analyst for ESPN.
To mark its 75th anniversary in 2008 and celebrate the storied history of the park, the Orange Bowl Committee committed $2.5 million toward Moore Park’s renovation. The city of Miami matched it with another $2.5 million. Another $600,000 to $700,000 was raised from businesses and foundations.
The first Orange Bowl game in 1933 — then known as the Palm Festival – was played at Moore Park. The post-season football game started as a way to draw people and commerce to Miami. Now the game is a fixture in Greater Miami and among sports fans.
Spearheading the funding for the improvements of the park was one way to show appreciation for the community, Gibson said.
“This is an inner-city park that gets tremendous use,” Gibson said. “You can go down there any day and any time and see it in use. It was a logical place for us to give back.”
The park had to undergo extensive renovations. Miller, the park manager, said some of the more than 200 walkers who daily used the Moore Park track had to be relocated to Curtis Park Sports complex on Northwest 24th Avenue.
Walkers who wanted to stay had to walk around the baseball field. Football practice was held on the baseball field, too.
Miller said he tried to keep all the programs going but saw the numbers of participants go down. The day after the re-opening on Sunday, he will be working at getting everyone back to Moore Park.
With the upgraded field, there is room for shot putt and discus throwing. And the locker room and concession stand will allow the park to bid to hold conferences and sporting events.
Miller is thankful to all who made it possible.
“This is your park; let’s take care of it,” Miller wants to tell the community. “Let’s not have anyone come in and graffiti it or damage it. Now that we have it, let’s take care of it. It’s for your use.”
Carolyn Guniss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ORANGE BOWL COMMITTEE. JOYFUL HEARTS: Children from the Moore Park neighborhood in Miami’s Allapattah community show their joy after being taken on a tour of the new Orange Bowl Field which will be formally opened on Jan. 2.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Ribbon cutting and cookout mark the opening of the Orange Bowl Field
WHEN: 2- 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 2
WHERE: Moore Park, 765 NW 36th St., Miami
COST: Free and open to the public