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FIU Expansion Means Less Room For Annual Dade Youth Fair

MIAMI (CBS4) - Since the 1970's, 86 acres next to Florida International University have been home to the Dade County Youth Fair and Expo, a tradition hundreds of thousands of South Florida families flock to every March.

Now news is surfacing that the midway may be on the march out as FIU looks to expand.

"We have built up unfortunately. WE have no more space really to continue to grow here," said FIU External Relations Vice President Sandra Gonzalez-Levy told CBS4's David Sutta Wednesday.

Gonzalez-Levy said she has spent the last 18 months trying to find new university land, and are now looking next door. The issue is pressing: more than 10,000 more students over the next five years are expected to enroll at the school.

"We are talking about classrooms. We are talking about research facilities. We are talking about labs. We are talking about housing," said Gonzalez-Levy.

But what is to become of the fair? FIU is trying to move them.

"If we can find a location that is a win-win for everybody we would be glad to relocate," said Miami-Dade County Fair Chairman Manny Rodriguez.

One possible site officials are looking at is 350 acres on the edge of 8th Street and the Florida Everglades.

"This would be the most centrally located," said Rodriguez.

The land, which actually is owned by South Florida Water Management District for wetland conservation, would become subject to a land swap. Some legislation circulating would allow FIU to take it over, then lease it to become the fair's new home.

"I think FIU should look at other ways to expand their campus," said Tropical Audubon Society spokesperson Laura Reynolds. "They should be looking to build up not just out."

Environmentalists worry how the massive park would impact the county's water supply.

"There is an economic value to just having green space that we haven't realized," said Reynolds.


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