SBD/November 1, 2012/Facilities

Ballot Measure For Crandon Park Upgrades Draws Opposition

The campaign to approve potential upgrades at the Crandon Park (Fla.) Tennis Center has drawn "opposition from a member of the pioneering family that donated the park land to the county," according to Patricia Mazzei of the MIAMI HERALD. Bruce Matheson "sits on a four-member committee that governs future plans for the park" and "called for a 'resounding NO' vote on the Miami-Dade ballot measure in a full-page color ad in Sunday’s Miami Herald." Matheson said, "The ballot language is incomplete, which prevents any voter from making an informed decision." But Sony Open tournament organizers pushing for the ballot measure said that that is "not so." The measure has "drawn the support of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and conditional support from the Key Biscayne Village Council." The proposed charter amendment would "allow tournament organizers to seek commission approval for a nearly $50-million makeover, paid for by the tournament and tournament revenues, such as parking surcharges and ticket fees." In his ad, Matheson "called the plans a '50-year sweetheart contract' for the tournament, whose lease -- set to expire in nine years -- would be extended to a total of 30 years, with two optional, 10-year extensions." Matheson "questioned whether the county would be on the hook to pay back any debt taken on for the project if the tournament were to go out of business or leave town." The tournament has "proposed building permanent grandstands, shaded pavilions and multi-story additions to the tennis center’s stadium." Tournament officials said that the "improvements are necessary" to keep the Sony Open in Key Biscayne. If it is approved at the Nov. 6 polls, the project "would require support from the special committee Matheson sits on, and it would need to meet terms set by the Matheson family, which sued the county when it planned to build the tennis stadium" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/1).
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