Tuesday, April 6, 2004
Carmel on the Case: Marlins Stadium
This afternoon was much more than just a game for the Florida Marlins and their fans. With the start of the new baseball season, one has to wonder how many more opening days will be played at Pro Player Stadium. The team is looking for a new field of dreams. But not everybody is convinced it's the right strategy for Miami-Dade County. Carmel Cafiero is On The Case.
(WSVN) -- For baseball fans, there's nothing like opening day... Especially this opening day.
Six months since the World Series, the Marlins and their fans are still basking in the glow of last year's miracle season.
But now the team is playing another high stakes game -- getting their own stadium.
Marlins President David Samson: "In order to compete with the other teams in baseball we need to get the revenues that other teams do. We're one of the last remaining teams that have to share revenues with the stadium as opposed to keeping it for the team and giving it to players to play."
A retractable roofed stadium will cost in the neighborhood of 325-million dollars.
The team would put up 137-million and Miami-Dade County leaders would throw in 73-million in tourist tax dollars.
But that leaves a 115-million dollar shortfall.
And you can forget any money coming from Tallahassee.
The president of the state senate has already said he will veto using any state sales tax to finance a ballpark.
Miami-Dade CommissionerJimmy Morales: "There are better uses for public money than building a stadium. For example, investing in our convention and development center that does bring tourists and business people to Miami."
Morales argues baseball doesn't expand the local economy.
Morales: "It's mostly local fans who buy tickets, local fans who buy products, so it's just moving money around that's already here."
Mayor Alex Penelas disagrees.
He says baseball is good for South Florida's image.
Penelas: "I think the Marlins have become a community asset. It's just not about the players and the ownership. Look how we came together during the world series run. I think it would be a sad day if we lost baseball."
And that's exactly what the Marlins threaten... if they don't get what they want.
Marlins OwnerJeffrey Loria: "If we're not going to consider ourselves a major city, then we won't get it done. But if this is to be a major city then everybody-- people, politicians, financial people, we'll all have to get together and get this damn thing done in the next 30 days."
Mark Rosentraub, however, disagrees.
As a stadium-financing expert, he thinks the Marlins are bluffing.
And if they did leave, Rosentraub thinks they could get sued on anti trust issues.
Rosentraub: "For the Marlins to justify a move under existing law, they would have to prove there was no partner willing to negotiate with them and all the evidence is to the contrary."
Rosentraub says city and county leaders should be tough negotiators because while baseball may be good for a community's image... The economic value of a new stadium is almost zero.
So far, Miami-Dade leaders have offered the Marlins a new stadium at the old Miami Arena Downtown, and the Orange Bowl site... both turned down by the Marlins.
Mark Rosentraub: "If a new stadium for the Marlins is built on the site of the Orange Bowl and that assists the city in the redevelopment of that area in Miami then a stadium makes good sense."
Rosentraub however says there is one location that clearly doesn't make sense - the 30-acre waterfront Bicentennial Park previously sought after by Marlins management.
Mark Rosentraub: "A bad deal for a city is building a stadium where you don't need it, where you build it on land that is already deemed by the market to be very valuable and development is going to occur there, whether you put the stadium there or not."
The Marlins say they too are just negotiating in good faith.
David Samson: "What we're all looking for is a deal that makes sense because our goal is simple: to make sure the Marlins stay in South Florida."
But if they do stay in South Florida, the money from a new stadium does not guarantee success.
The last three cities to build a new park - Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee - all fielded teams with losing records.
Carmel Cafiero: "If there is a new stadium - it would have 38-thousand seats. So far this year the Marlins have only sold - seven thousand season tickets... and that's up 60-percent from previous years without a World Series win. Carmel Cafiero Seven news."
For more information, or if you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE