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UM booster’s pitch to build stadium at Coral Gables Senior High School lands with a thud

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 12/6/2021 Samantha J. Gross, Miami Herald

University of Miami booster and attorney John Ruiz’s Sunday night proposition to build the school a fully retractable football stadium at Coral Gables Senior High School was not well-received by the city or Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which owns the lot.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Ruiz, of Medicare litigation firm MSP Recovery, said he wants to build a stadium at Coral Gables Senior High School and had gathered a team of eight — including two firm employees and three of his children — to lead the charge.

Ruiz is well-connected in Coral Gables — former Coral Gables Commissioner Frank Quesada is Ruiz’s partner at the firm, which also employs Gables Vice Mayor Michael Mena. But neither the city of Coral Gables nor the Miami-Dade schools chief support the idea, which a city spokesman called “speculative.”

Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said “no one has approached us formally or informally about this issue.”

“Coral Gables Senior High School ... is a school with a great deal of history, located within a residential neighborhood,” he said during a news conference Monday at Booker T. Washington Senior High School in Overtown. “This has come on us in a very surprising way. We respect our schools, we respect the community and at this point we are not entertaining any such idea.”

A spokesman for the city wrote in an email that the city is “NOT in favor of a stadium project.”

“In addition, a stadium is not compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods, and Coral Gables Senior High School is a community institution which we value,” he wrote. “This property belongs to Miami-Dade County Public Schools. This proposal is speculative and one we do not support.”

The Orange Bowl was the home stadium for Miami’s football team from 1937 until it closed in 2008. The Hurricanes now host their home games at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, where the Miami Dolphins play.

A spokesman for the University of Miami did not respond to requests for comment.

Ruiz said in an interview Monday that he was surprised by what he called a “knee-jerk reaction” from the city and the schools chief and urged others to “keep an open mind.”

“I am surprised that they have a reaction because they don’t know anything about the project,” he said. “I would equate that to a doctor making a decision on a person’s health condition without knowing anything about the patient or the patient’s past medical history.”

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