SBD/Issue 238/Facilities & Venues

Marlins Accused Of Misleading Public During New Ballpark Talks

Some Miami Officials Unhappy Marlins Turned
Big Profit While Negotiating Ballpark Terms

Revelations this week that the Marlins turned a $37.8M profit "at the same time they were negotiating a sweetheart stadium deal has some elected officials ... charging the team misled the public during the contentious, drawn-out debate," according to a front-page piece by Beasley & Rabin of the MIAMI HERALD. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, who voted against the ballpark plan, said the deal is "horrible and the financing is even worse." Gimenez: "And now you see they took us for a ride." While the Marlins in '08 "lobbied for funding from Miami and Miami-Dade County without disclosing their bottom line, the ball club turned a hefty profit thanks in large part" to $48M provided by MLB through revenue sharing. The Marlins in '09 "were again in the black," this time by $11.1M, while having the league's lowest payroll at $36.8M "for the second consecutive season." Gimenez: "This shows me they could have put more into the stadium than they did. We could have sold less bonds." Beasley & Rabin note the Marlins were awarded a "favorable deal," as they "basically secured every dollar of revenue made at the stadium." They also "won't have to pay their share of the cost -- roughly $150 million -- until the end of construction." But "in light of the team's better-than-portrayed finances, many now wonder if the trade-off was worth it to taxpayers." When asked if the County Commission was "duped," Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez, who also voted against the final deal, said, "I think so. I do believe that if some people had known they were taking a profit, they would have voted differently." But Marlins President David Samson "had a far different take on the numbers." Samson said the leaked financial document "basically confirms everything that we have said over the years, in terms of how we've operated the team, with our eye toward one thing." Samson: "That was to ensure that baseball would be secured in South Florida" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/25).

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