Opinion: NOTES by Claudia Potamkin

When it comes to the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the SocialMiami contributor knows how to win the game.

If there are as many fumbles and turnovers in Superbowl 56 as there have been in the fate of the Coconut Grove Playhouse than we are in for a painful and lousy game.

There have been many owners, coaches and quarterbacks since 1956, when the US Army Air Corps Navigators training school was transformed into its first incarnation of the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Since then, a multitude of legal, financial, logistical, political, historical and ethical issues have been under consideration. Follow (if you dare and have many hours), the reams of court reports, editorials, petitions, appeals, statements from our governors and social media opinions.

In an effort not to politicize a hyper politicized issue I will avoid the who said whats, whens and whys. Let’s just say there are two unnamed teams, (pssst. the city vs. the county).    Kudos to the powers that be for working hard to fulfill their goals. Thing is, they are butting heads at every turn.  Valid plays have been called by both teams but as in most hotly contested competitions, panaceas are either blocked or intercepted well before the line of scrimmage, offsides are continually called and no solutions have been added to either team’s playbook.

We are in the 4th quarter and the clock is winding down. We remain no closer to the goal line than when the theatre abruptly closed its doors during the 2006 run of Sonia Flew and the theatrics moved out of the playhouse and into courthouses throughout the state. 23 million dollars in State funding allotted 15 years ago could soon be redirected to some other project elsewhere in the city. Additional funding will be required to complete the project but without a solid game plan we can’t hope to for any angels to meet us at the end zone. Both teams agree on one thing- to save as much of the playhouse as feasible. Just how much qualifies as restoration of this historical landmark and what amount is even fit for restoration is one key issue.

The problem is that this bowl game is on a fast track towards extinction if a sparkly new structure is erected after the playhouse is torn down- the very last thing either team proclaims to want.    What’s at stake in this Superbowl is the heart and soul of a city. The trophy that stands to be won or lost to both teams and their fans FOREVER is our beloved Coconut Grove Playhouse, home to a rich and storied nearly 100-year-old theatre history which included some of the biggest stars and attendees of the era. These memories would crash to the ground in a pile of rubble alongside a demolition. We will all win or all lose.

Is there such a thing as a Hail Mary Pass…powered by good will, cooperation and compromise? It would be caught as if in the slow motion glory of championship video playbacks as a victory song rises in the background and the entire crowd catapults to their feet with cheers. Our entire community will burst into tears of joy or chokes of sorrow if we refuse to work together as one team before the clock runs out.  

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