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Mar 05th
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Snowbirds are paying for Miami Marlins' new stadium

marlins112911_optBY EVAN WEINER

(Cozumel, Mexico) – The woman sitting in the back on the cruise had a question during a Miami and the Super Bowl speech session last Friday. She wanted to know how the recently renamed Miami Marlins Major League Baseball franchise all of a sudden had money to spend on free agents players like Albert Pujols or Jose Reyes.

The Florida Marlins franchise was a cash poor business that got rid of high priced players while playing in a football stadium in Broward County despite winning two World Series. The revenue challenged organization now seems flush with cash after years of being revenue deprived. Now the franchise has more to pursue expensive free agents.

There is a simple answer to the woman’s query.

Miami residents and a significant number of tourists including those from the New York-New Jersey area are paying various tax levies that will go to pay for the construction of the Marlins new stadium and parking garages at the site of the old Orange Bowl. Miami is a city that does not seem able to afford to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a baseball stadium and garage. And the city is on the hook to pay property taxes on the garages thanks to the deal cooked up with Jeffrey Loria, the New York art dealer who owns the Miami Marlins. The franchise will keep a lot of the money generated by the parking not the city. Just another perk for the team.

Downtown Miami near the Port of Miami and the Miami Heat’s arena is a rather interesting place. There are a quite a number of empty storefronts in the area and the high rise buildings loaded with condos have signs hanging from the sides of the buildings screaming about the availability of luxury housing in the downtown. Apparently you can get a place to live at 50 cents on the dollar at these buildings and some of the people who have bought condos are from Asia and South America (Argentina and Brazil) and might not be too interested in Marlins baseball. The weak American dollar has made the buildings attractive to foreigners. But the foreigners, too, are contributing dollars that will pad the Marlins’ bottom line.

The paradox is that Miami has money for sports, in this case for the financing of a stadium which is really a public park that cannot be used by local residents for activities. Yet the city might not have money for essential services.

But why be concerned with essential services in a bad economy in an area loaded with foreclosures and empty condos when you can get a Pujols or Reyes on the local Major League Baseball team thanks to public subsidies.

The stadium will be the “catalyst” be the “rebirth” of baseball in Miami and allow Marlins ownership to spend on players according to those in the know in baseball. Hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into a municipally-owned stadium with a financial contribution from the Marlins owner Loria that probably will give him a barrel filled with money from people who will never set foot inside the facility—tourists and local taxpayers—through increased revenue from concessions, parking and signage.

The city’s decision to fund the stadium did not go well with the community. The mayor, Carlos Alvarez, was recalled and lost in a landslide during a special election last March. Although there was a laundry list of complaints about Alvarez, the stadium expenditure seemed to be the most pressing grievance. The stadium for Loria means more money for his franchise, but it is pretty doubtful that Little Havana will see much of a positive economic impact from the Marlins’ new yard. Stadiums and arenas are not economic engines that can revitalize a city or a large area surrounding a facility.

Miami seemingly has found another "financial catalyst" if the Little Havana park fails, as there is some talk of building a casino and luxury hotel on the waterfront near the port although the plan has not been well received by city business leaders like Arison.

Comments (4)
4 Monday, 26 December 2011 19:37
Mark Duda
3 Monday, 05 December 2011 06:49
Cornell Bro
I can't even finish reading this. The syntax and grammar mistakes are breathtaking.

Additionally I agree with the comment by marlins. Having lived in broward county for 13 years, and attended several marlins games, I've always waited for the franchise to get its own place. Canadian snowbirds (like my grandparents) and south American tourists (like my relatives) thoroughly enjoy local entertainment, whatever the venue.

I suggest you write about topics you know about.
2 Wednesday, 30 November 2011 11:27
CJ from DC
I was in the area just yesterday and Marlin is correct. The stadium sits in Miami-Dace County in the city of Miami Gardens, as does the Calder Race Course and Casino that is less than a half mile away. A mile away if the Broward county line. The stadium is much closer to downtown Fort Lauderdale than it is to downtown Miami

I also rode past the new Marlins Stadium while I was in the area and its going to be really interesting to see if a mediocre Marlins team will be able to draw more fans there than at Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphins/SunLife Stadium.

The old Orange Bowl might draw 50,000 or more for the 6 or 7 U of Miami games and the Ornage Bowl game, but will baseball fans at the tune of 30,000 folks each and every night come there. That new parking structure aside, its not in the easiest place to get to and its not clear, even if the Marlins can sign a couple of start players, that the Miami area is going to come out for baseball.

Its too bad they took so long to decide to build a baseball stadium in Miami proper. If they had built on the site of the old Miami Arena after the Heat got their arena built, baseball on the edge of downtown Miami with all the freeway access from cities from the north and south as well as the communities east of the causeway, might have made it work.
1 Tuesday, 29 November 2011 14:54
You should stick to writing about a garbage state like New Jersey.

By the way, Sun Life Stadium is in Miami-Dade County and "quiet" does not spell "quite"

Maybe you should look into the concessions made for the Yankees to acquire the land for their new stadium. But no. You are too much of an idiot to criticize something in your back yard yet you decide it's better to trash the Marlins and how their stadium apparently affects 90 year old snowbirds.

Oh and if stadiums never do anything to revitalize an area then the stadiums in San Diego, San Francisco, Colorado, and Philadelphia must all be a part of an extremely rare phenomenon called "Area Revitalization due to Stadium Construction".

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