Beating a dead horse
Another attempt is being made at building a baseball stadium in Miami. TFM's opinion hasn't changed. If the Florida Marlins want a new stadium, finance it themselves. Dolphin stadium, home to both pro baseball and football, is barely twenty years old. Former Dolphin owner Joe Robbie privately financed its construction. So it can be done. Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay a dime.
Linked to- Bright & Early, Adam's Blog,
Reigniting hopes for baseball in downtown Miami, Major League Baseball is targeting a long-ignored patch of land south of the Miami Arena for a new Florida Marlins stadium, according to two sources familiar with the proposal.
It remains far from clear if this plan will fare any better than previous failed ideas for a baseball stadium in South Florida, but Major League Baseball's role in identifying the site is interpreted as giving a level of credibility not seen before, the sources said.
Still, even if consensus is reached on a site -- in recent months, Hialeah has been discussed as a new home for the Marlins -- it remains to be seen how construction of a stadium would be funded.
Representatives from Miami-Dade County, Hialeah and the Marlins are scheduled to meet with MLB officials in New York next week. The Marlins were informed last week about Major League Baseball's proposal to put the team in a downtown Miami stadium, and county leaders are currently being told about the idea, a source said.
Jonathan Mariner, an executive vice president at Major League Baseball and a former Marlins and Florida Panthers executive who has a home in Fort Lauderdale, said he ''can't comment in any way, shape or form.'' Marlins spokesman P.J. Loyello declined to comment. Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz did not return several calls.
MLB, which is keen on keeping baseball in South Florida but has watched stadium pitches flounder for years, is eyeing a collection of parcels that include land owned by Florida East Coast Industries, the real estate and railroad company. FECI is based in St. Augustine, but Chairman and CEO Adolfo Henriques lives in Miami.
The land is bordered south to north by Northwest Fifth and Seventh streets and east to west by Miami Avenue and the Metrorail line. A land swap with FECI and the city is being considered, which would remove some of the pricey land cost from a stadium deal, a source said.
The Marlins are about $100 million short of what they need for a roughly $430 million stadium. Miami-Dade County has previously pledged $110 million to $120 million, and the team has offered $212 million -- $182 million in rent and $30 million in equity.
The Marlins now play at Dolphin Stadium, but their lease runs out in 2010. The terms have been criticized as less than favorable for the Marlins. The stadium also is considered better suited for football than baseball.
It is expected that streets would need to be closed and reconfigured to accommodate a stadium in downtown. Nearby parcels would also have to be acquired to get enough land in the right configuration for a stadium -- but how that would be achieved remains unclear.
On its face, the location appears to come with several benefits. In particular, it would put the Marlins stadium in a rapidly revitalizing downtown area, but also place it close to Interstate 95 and, potentially, three different mass transit stops. Such a formula has worked well for baseball in other cities.
Both the Metrorail and the Metromover, the downtown fixed-rail circulator, have stops at the site. Perhaps most importantly, the Florida East Coast railway line runs to the proposed stadium site. The FEC line, tracks currently used to haul freight but are being considered for passenger travel, run through the heart of many South Florida downtowns, including West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Aventura. Already dozens of new condos, shops and restaurants and hotels are going up in downtown Miami. The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts is set to open this fall six blocks north of the site. And the Miami Heat play in AmericanAirlines Arena just blocks away on Biscayne Boulevard.
POISED FOR CHANGE
The area may also be poised for change because the Miami Arena, the former home of the Miami Heat, is set to be sold. Developer Scott Silver has a contract to buy the property from Glenn Straub for $55 million, according to a source with knowledge of the deal. The Palm Beach businessman, who purchased the arena at auction for $28 million from the city of Miami in 2004, has struggled to find a successful use for the building.
''It is not something I am at liberty to discuss,'' said Silver. He heads Grouper Financial, which turned Burger King's former headquarters in Palmetto Bay into a mixed-use office, residential and retail center. ``I may be able to discuss it at some point in the future.''
Straub declined comment. Edie Laquer is brokering the deal, a source says, and she also declined comment.