Stressing both economic and tourist importance to Miami-Dade County, Commissioner Javier Souto announced $8.7 million in improvements to Tropical Park to include the new Ronald Reagan Equestrian Center as well as a Cultural and Arts Center.
The enhancement plan provides a fitting complement to the modernization of Bird Road at the Palmetto Expressway, Souto said, noting newly planned zoning will lead to improving Bird Road, one of Kendall’s busiest commercial thoroughfares and the main entry to the area’s major district park.
“New Tropical Park developments will allow large-scale events that will attract international participants and spectators,” Souto said. “Planning is now ready to proceed with the Cultural Center development at the park for additional special events and activities.
“Altogether, this will help create a tremendous economic boost for our community. Visitors will give their patronage to area hotels, car rental companies, restaurants, retail shops and other businesses.”
The District 10 commissioner more than five years ago initiated long-range Bird Road improvements through zoning ugrades culminating in a new district plan approved by the Planning Review Board and currently under county commission review
The new Cultural Center will feature a 300-seat auditorium for plays, ballet and musical concerts offered by groups from local schools and the community. Also planned are an exhibition gallery and open-air areas for music and theater; art studies and classrooms; ceramics; a dance studio and dance laboratories; areas for instrumental music and choir practice; anart gallery, and a culinary arts center.
The new Equestrian Center plan will “maximize features of one of our busiest parks,” added parks director Jack Kardys, who appeared with Souto at a morning press conference. “These new covered arenas will give us more flexibility to offer a wider variety of spectator and exhibition events.”
When completed, the new Equestrian Center will have added two new roofed and lighted rings for warm-ups and practice, creating a 150,000-square-foot exhibitor space under covered roof. The new practice ring additionally will house 266 horse stalls for use during large equestrian events, and provide a new public address system for the complex, new landscaping and parking area striping.
Among major events already booked for the Equestrian Center is the 2013 Confederation of Paso Fino Horse Show, a world-class competition involving more than 1,000 horses from 12 Caribbean, Central and South American countries, expected to draw in excess of 20,000 local, national and international visitors.
During summer of 2012, the center hosted a CONFEPACO youth horse show, a smaller scale equestrian event for ages 5-8, bringing 200 horses and 500 young competitors from the U. S. and abroad.
Funding for equestrian center expansion is provided by the BBC (Building Better Communities) bond program with development by Miami-Dade Parks Design and Development Team, a group of consultant firms and Lemartec Engineering and Construction Corp., general contractor.
On a year-around basis, the Equestrian Center hosts 36 events annually that include three state and local dog shows and the annual Miami International Agriculture, Cattle and Horse Show, a three-day event drawing more than 60,000 worldwide visitors and exhibitors from 18 states.
Coupled with the nearby Mary Abreu Community Center, Tropical Park offers event producers and commercial organizations facilities of a 4,320-square-foot meeting area seating up to 250 with kitchen facilities, available sound systems and assorted meeting equipment, Kardys noted.
The 275-acre regional park features four lakes and a 6,000-seat stadium, tennis center, dog park, plus facilities for basketball, racquetball, softball and soccer, as well as miles of paved pathways for walking, running and biking.
For information on upcoming events and activities, call 305-226-8316 or visit www.miamidade.gov/parks