SBD/Issue 129/Facilities & Venues

Miami-Dade County Vote Clears Way For New Marlins Ballpark

New 37,000-Seat Marlins Ballpark Will Feature
Retractable Roof, 60 Suites, Parking Facilities
The Miami-Dade County Commission yesterday voted 9-4 in favor of a financing plan for a new Marlins ballpark, delivering the team "what two World Series titles and previous ownership could not: a permanent new home and a sexy new name," the Miami Marlins, according to Rabin & Haggman of the MIAMI HERALD. The vote followed "more than nine hours of debate" and "elicited cheers and hugs, including one between" Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria and President David Samson. The county vote came four days after the team was granted similar approval by the Miami City Commission, a "one-two punch of 'yes' votes that ended the franchise's long-tortured pursuit of a new stadium." In addition to the stadium financing plan, a "bid waiver to hire construction manager Hunt/Moss passed 10-3," and other measures passed as well, including "one to bond out money to finance the deal." Rabin & Haggman note the new 37,000-seat ballpark will feature a "retractable roof, with about 60 suites and new parking facilities," and the team "hopes to take the field" by '12. The financial breakdown of the $634M stadium plan is "top-heavy for the county," as Miami-Dade is "on the hook" for $297M from tourist taxes, another $50M from a separate bond referendum, and $12M for road and utility repairs. The city of Miami "pledged last week to spend" $94M on the parking structures, $13M toward stadium construction, and $12M for other improvements. Miami also will "operate the garage and pay the yearly debt payment." The Marlins will spend $120M "in the later years of construction, and pay the county back another $35[M] of borrowed money." All revenues, including "naming rights, concession sales, and advertising go to the Marlins." But if the county, city or the team "can't find proper financing by July 1, any of the entities can kill the deal." Loria said that he "expects groundbreaking in July" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/24).

NEXT STEPS: MLB President & COO Bob DuPuy: "This was an extraordinary session, and I thank everybody in the county for their hard work. There is a lot of hard work still to do, but the fun part starts now."'s Joe Frisaro noted the Marlins are "under lease to remain at Dolphin Stadium through 2010," and with the new ballpark set to open in '12, the team will "begin negotiating" with Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross for a one-year lease extension. Meanwhile, the Marlins will "seek hosting the finals" of the '13 World Baseball Classic, and the team is "confident it will be awarded an MLB All-Star Game within a few years after the doors in the new park are open" (, 3/23). But in Ft. Lauderdale, Sarah Talalay notes legal action "still looms" over the ballpark project, as Miami auto dealer Norman Braman, who "lost his lawsuit against the financing for the ballpark and other Miami projects last year, has filed his notice of appeal." And another suit "filed by two Miami activists claiming the deal was negotiated in private in violation of the state's public record laws was filed earlier this year" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/24).

Writer Congratulates Loria
For Success In S. Florida
BASEBALL'S FUTURE IN SOUTH FLORIDA: In Miami, Greg Cote writes, "Our best days in the big leagues until now have been about simply having a team. Monday may have been the best day of all because it was about keeping a team, finally stamping a sense of permanence on a club struggling to grow without roots." Yesterday's vote was "about giving the Marlins their best possible chance to take lasting root [in Miami] and be passed from generation to generation like an heirloom, the way baseball is in so many cities among so many families." Cote: "Monday gave us a fighting chance to become one of those cities that build a bond with baseball" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/24). In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes, "Congratulate Loria for getting done in South Florida what [former Marlins Owners] Wayne Huizenga and John Henry couldn't. The others always had the threat of selling the Marlins to another market, and, failing that, the long shot of playing one potential South Florida site against another." The new ballpark "provides the only certainty that baseball will remain in South Florida for another 10 years, and a final rationale for pulverizing the poor old Orange Bowl" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/24).

KEEPING THEM HONEST: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes, "Who's protecting what the baseball fan wants? Who's guaranteeing the Marlins follow through properly with all this public money and not stuff it in their pockets?" Hyde "drew up a list of demands" for the team. The Marlins' player payroll "must equal the median team's payroll." Hyde: "Get rid of that measly $22[M] payroll from last year." Also, ticket prices should "hold at last year's average of $18.69 a ticket initially and can bump up at the same pace as inflation." And "no more than $10 for parking" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/24).

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