The Marlins plans for a new stadium is one county vote away from
reality, but it will most likely come wit more concessions.
(Click to see in larger view)
The Florida Marlins are hoping that after 14 years, today will be the day they finally land a baseball-only stadium in the Miami area.
County commissioners will vote whether to approve the $639 million stadium project this afternoon. The passage of the funding package has seemed to gain momentum after city officials voted 3-2 in favor of the deal, but only after concessions were made.
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Those concessions, which include a greater share of the profits for the county and city if the team is sold after construction, and a promise that at least half of the people who will build the stadium will be hired from South Florida, seem to open the door for the county to try and gain concessions of their own. Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez has called for scrapping the existing contracts and writing new ones, with the public contribution dropping from about $480 million to about $76 million. The Marlins are committed to paying $120 million toward construction and repaying a $35 million county loan. That seems very unlikely, according to County Mayor Carlos Alvarez.
''I think they have the votes now, but you can still make the deal better by changing some aspects of it,'' said Gimenez.
As reported by the Miami Herald, there are several concessions that commissioners will see if the Marlins will accept in order to gain the long sought after ballpark:
Gimenez also wants the public to get a share of the profits if the team is ever sold -- not just in the first nine years, as the current contract stipulates. And he wants the county to hire an independent auditor to make sure that the Marlins have the money to live up to the deal. Team owner Jeffrey Loria has refused to open the Marlins' books to show assets and liabilities.
A skeptical Gimenez said the county shouldn't enter into such a big business deal based on its partner's word.
And, Gimenez isn’t the only county commissioner looking for concessions:
Commissioner Sally Heyman said she'll introduce an amendment to reduce the county's share of the construction cost to $206 million and to make Major League Baseball cosign the Marlins' promise to stay in Miami for 35 years. That way, the league could be sued if the team were to leave.
Heyman also wants to get rid of the so-called ''death clause'' that would allow Loria's heirs to sell the team without the requirement to share the profits with the city and the county.
Heyman wrote in a memo on Wednesday that she is concerned that the current agreements “offer little financial or legal protection for our citizens.”
In other Marlins stadium news, proponents are using Facebook in order to gain support.
To see all of the following images, plus others in high-resolution:
Proposed Miami Marlins Stadium
ALL IMAGES COURTESY HOK SPORT
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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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