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ON HOLD: Marlins Stadium- No funding from state

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Posted on Fri, Feb. 04, 2005


Tentative stadium deal announced

Miami-Dade County staff and the Florida Marlins have reached a tentative stadium funding agreement. But it still needs to be approved by the city and county managers before going to commissioners.


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Negotiators for Miami-Dade County and the Florida Marlins have reached an ''agreement in principle'' on funding for a $420 million ballpark next to the Orange Bowl that would give the county and city of Miami a lien on the franchise if the team can't cover cost overruns, Miami-Dade County Tax Collector Ian Yorty said Thursday.

Yorty, the county's chief negotiator on the deal, said they hope to complete a written document by early next week for the retractable-roof stadium. The ''memorandum of understanding,'' which would be non-binding and not a final version of the agreement, must still be approved by City Manager Joe Arriola, who voiced no objections Thursday, and County Manager George Burgess.

It would then have to be approved by the city and county commissions.

The funding plan still has a $30 million gap. Next month, the Marlins will ask the state Legislature for a $60 million sales tax rebate over 30 years, which would allow the team to borrow $30 million to use toward stadium financing.

''This is good enough to take to Tallahassee and see what happens,'' Arriola said of the latest proposal.

Burgess could not be reached late Thursday. Marlins executives had no comment.

The Marlins have failed in two previous attempts to secure state money. Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said he would do his ''level best'' to give the Marlins a fair shot to plead their case. But Lee has said the Marlins must complete their deal with the county before going to the state.

The agreement with the city and county had been delayed for months, largely because of negotiations over how the Marlins would pay for potential cost overruns. The Marlins were asked for a letter of credit, but the team felt that ''was onerous,'' Yorty said.

Instead, the Marlins agreed to give the city and county a lien on the franchise. That would allow local government to seize control of the team -- for the purpose of selling it -- if the Marlins are unable to cover cost overruns.

Additionally, Arriola said the Marlins have agreed to seek another cost overrun guarantee, worth $10 million, from Major League Baseball, and are awaiting a response.

As part of the deal, the team has agreed to contribute $192 million and eventually change its name to the Miami Marlins.

Miami-Dade and Miami last year pledged a financial contribution.

The city also will provide the land next to the Orange Bowl, as well as help finance a $32 million, 2,500-space parking garage.

Burgess will ask the commission to vote on the issue at the next full meeting on March 1 -- the last time the commission will be able to discuss the multi-million-dollar Marlins stadium before the start of the legislative session.

Herald staff writers Tere Figueras, Marc Caputo and Michael Vasquez contributed to this report.

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I'm all about the Miami Marlins. Love it.

The deal on the other hand...

I'm not crazy about it, but it's better than nothing. I think the city/county is putting too much into it.

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I'd like to see a little more confirmation on this.

A source would be nice for one...

It looks way to expensive for what the marlins are offering.

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This morning I happened to catch a rebroadcast of a County Commission hearing regarding the Marlins Stadium... They briefly showed a rendering, which I am trying to find... It did not appear to resemble the one shown above.

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Posted on Wed, Feb. 09, 2005

Stadium plan presented to Miami-Dade commissioners


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Miami-Dade County Commissioners received their first detailed presentatation on the proposed deal for a new Florida Marlins stadium Thursday, with some commissioners expressing concerns about particular aspects of the plan, but none making a move to thwart it.

The proposal calls for a $420 million, 38,000-seat retractable roof stadium. The Marlins would contribute roughly half the cost, with Miami and Miami-Dade County -- but mostly the county -- provding the rest.

''If you want baseball in South Florida, we believe this is a balanced plan,'' Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess told commissioners. ``I think it reflects a doable thing.''

Added David Samson, Marlins team president: ''South Florida is the most vibrant, diverse, amazing community in the country. The perfect baseball market.'' Some commissioners worried the county wasn't adequately protected from cost overruns, or that the Marlins were anticipating unrealistic attendance at their new home, hurting their chances to pay off bonds that make up much of the team's contribution to construction.

But these concerns in general led commissioners to suggest only minor tinkering with the proposed deal, not abandoning it or radically altering it.

The Marlins have pledged to cover any cost overruns of the stadium project. Originally, local polticians wanted a letter of credit from the team to back that promise up, but settled for the the ability to place a lien on the franchise.

''We would be able to forclose on the team in the event they are unsuccessful in meeting their obligations,'' Burgess said.

''I guess I'll be coaching third base or something,'' County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez later joked.

City and county leaders are also trying to get Major League Baseball to guarantee providing money towards cost overruns should the team prove unable to do so. That issue is still unresolved. No county commissioner Thursday objected to -- or even made mention of -- a recent $10 million increase in the county's contribution to stadium construction, meant to help offset a rise in project costs.

Not all commissioners saw the plan -- only members of the commission's Intergovernmental, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs committee. A vote by the full commission is expected on March 1

The Miami City Commssion, which also must approve the deal, is expected to cast its vote on Feb. 24.

While Thursday was not a day the county could have signed off on a new stadium, it was certainly a day that the stadium's prospects could have been severely wounded. Had county commissioners taken a hard stance against the current proposal, stadium negotiations might have been delayed until well past the beginning of this year's state legislative session, which starts March 8. The Marlins, which have never had success woooing money from the state Legislature, are trying to convince the state to contribute $60 million towards the stadium. Last year, a similar effort failed, in part because the team did not make its pitch to Tallahassee until well after the legislative session began.

This year, the team and local politicians hope to have a tentative agreement approved by both city and county by March 1. Despite some minor unresolved issues at the local level, they will then lobby state lawmakers by saying that missing state money is the only thing keeping the stadium from becoming a reality.

Last year, ''They kind of laughed in our faces and sent us home,'' Miami City Manager Joe Arriola said of the reception in Tallahassee. Then he spoke of the state money in a way that is sure to be repeated in coming months:

``That's the last piece. If we can get that last piece, all the other details can be worked out.''

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Marlins, Miami clear another hurdle in financing for stadium

By Sarah Talalay


February 24, 2005, 12:25 PM EST

MIAMI - The Florida Marlins on Thursday cleared another significant hurdle in their quest to finance a $420 million ballpark and parking garage east of the Orange Bowl, when Miami City Commissioners unanimously approved a non-binding agreement spelling out the funding for the project.

The city's contribution to the project is $28 million to cover the cost of land and infrastructure needed for the 38,000-seat, retractable roof stadium. The city will issue $120 million in bonds for the project backed by $28 million in tourist tax development taxes, $32 million for the 2,800-space garage that will be covered by parking fees, and $60 million in hotel bed taxes that were freed up when the city sold Miami Arena last year.

City officials acknowledged the negotiations have been long and difficult, but all agreed the agreement, which roughly splits the costs between the public and the team, is sound and protects the public from footing the bill for cost overruns.

The agreement now heads to the Miami-Dade County Commission on Tuesday, where approval is expected. After that vote, the city, county and team will approach the state Legislature in the hopes of securing a state sale tax rebate to cover the $30 million gap in the financing plan.

The project is by no means assured, but the city's approval signals continuing momentum for it.

"I think we have a basic business framework on which to go forward and a lot of cooperation from all the parties," Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said.

Commission Chairman Joe Sanchez said he was excited at the prospect of a stadium in his district.

"We're going to have a great team in Miami, we're going to have a great stadium in Miami," Sanchez said. "It's a great, great deal for the city of Miami."

The county has pledged $138 million in hotel bed and sports facilities taxes, including the $60 million the city freed up from the sale of Miami Arena, to the project. The Marlins are paying $30 million up front and another $162 million in rent, backed by future guaranteed revenue to the team, including television and radio broadcast fees. If the project is built, the team will be renamed Miami Marlins.

The team, city, and county hope to secure a $60 million sales tax rebate from the Legislature to generate $30 million toward construction. Legislative leaders have said they are open to considering the request as long as the team gets a local financing deal in place.


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that would be nice,but also kind of weird.The Miami Marlins? eh. I thnik I could get used to that.I think itll be great to build another stadium next to the other.The thing is traffic.Hopefully 2 games wont be played at the same time,itll be major traffic.

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Senate panel backs pitch for new Marlins ballpark

By Jean-Paul Renaud

and Linda Kleindienst Tallahassee Bureau

Posted April 14 2005

TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Marlins hit a double on Wednesday: a key Senate committee approved a $60 million tax break to help build a new ballpark and the president of Major League Baseball made a personal appeal on the team's behalf.

In a 6-2 vote, the Senate Commerce Committee agreed that Miami-Dade County should get a sales tax break to help finance the $420 million stadium planned near the Orange Bowl.

"We believe this is an important part of the revitalization of South Florida," Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess told the committee. "Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami and the Marlins worked together in a way I think the Florida Legislature has expected for years."

In the past few weeks, county and city officials and their lobbyists, as well as those in baseball, have been courting votes throughout the Legislature. Supporters hope the Senate vote may reinvigorate the issue in the House, where it has been stagnant for nearly two weeks.

Local officials claim the new stadium would generate up to $8 million in sales tax revenues for the state -- $2 million of which the county wants to keep over a 30-year period to help with construction costs. On Wednesday, they gave legislators an economic impact study that contends stadiums can be an impetus for redevelopment.

"The most immediate and visible economic impacts from sports venues appears in the neighborhoods where new stadiums and arenas are developed,'' said Robert D. Cruz, a professor of economics at Barry University who authored the study. "Not all new stadiums or arenas have sparked urban redevelopment, but many, especially more recently, have had a clearly positive impact.''

Last week a Senate economist told the same committee that publicly financed sports facilities do not spur economic development. Cruz countered that "this issue is not as black and white as some critics might suggest."

Until now, the bid for a new stadium for the two-time World Series champions has received a tepid reception in the Senate.

In a letter delivered to Senate President Tom Lee on Wednesday, Major League Baseball President Robert DuPuy said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has invested millions in the franchise but that it will take a baseball-only stadium to help make the team successful.

"Since South Florida was granted a Major League Baseball team in 1992, the franchise has had significant success on the field and numerous disappointments off the field," DuPuy wrote. "Throughout this period, and under three different ownership and management teams, the single consistent reality for the economic viability of the franchise has been the need for a baseball-only, retractable roof facility. To date, these efforts have not been successful."

DuPuy said H. Wayne Huizenga's offer to let the team stay at Dolphins Stadium when its lease expires after the 2010 season is not an acceptable long-term solution. The Marlins management has indicated it will petition to leave the state if the stadium deal falls through.

"There are so many considerations to this decision," said Lee, R-Brandon, after reading the letter. "The buyers of the team knew, or certainly should have known, they were buying an asset that did not have an economically viable lease agreement to play baseball."

Yet, Lee added, "I'm not saying `no.' I'm just saying that's a tough question to lay at the feet of elected officials."

Miami-Dade legislators pushing the stadium tax break are hoping that the bill's movement in the Senate will break a logjam in the House, where Finance and Tax Chairman Fred Brummer has kept the bill from being heard. Brummer, R-Apopka, says he hasn't been convinced that a stadium would economically benefit South Florida.

"[brummer] was waiting for movement in the Senate, so this is a good sign," said Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, who is sponsoring the House initiative.

After meeting with Lopez-Cantera and Miami-Dade county leaders late Wednesday, Brummer said the Senate's vote changes nothing but promised to read the new study.

"If they pass a bad bill, it doesn't mean we will," he said. "I want to see that it actually has positive economic impact. Just to get the whiff of the light of day, it's got to really be valid."

Brummer faces strong pressure to allow the bill into his committee. Gov. Jeb Bush has said the issue deserves to be heard. And House Speaker Allan Bense promised in March the House would give the issue a "fair look-see."

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Key lawmaker in House blocks Marlins stadium bid


Associated Press

April 15, 2005, 3:27 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE -- A bid by Miami-Dade County officials for $60 million in state money to help build a new Florida Marlins baseball stadium suffered a blow Friday when a key lawmaker said his pivotal committee would not hear the proposal.

``I don't see any reason for it to be heard,'' said Rep. Fred Brummer, a certified public accountant from Apopka who chairs the House Finance and Tax Committee. ``It's got to have something going for it for us to use working family's tax dollars and I've seen nothing in the bill that this is a good use of tax dollars.''

And House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City, has said consistently that he won't force his committee chairs to hear bills they have doubts about.

``He picks the chairmen he trusts to look out for the best interests of the people and that's Fred Brummer's job,'' Bense spokesman Towson Fraser said Friday. ``He's doing his job.''

Brummer described the county's economic analysis ``tepid at best'' and cited previous commitments from the Legislature to professional sports franchises as the main reason they were being asked to kick in again.

``If the Dade county taxpayers support it, God bless 'em,'' Brummer said Friday. ``If they want to use Dade County taxes for it, that's fine. I think they can get it done on their own.''

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez was unavailable Friday afternoon to comment, spokeswoman Susie Trutie said, and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz did not immediately a telephone message at his office.

They are looking for a $60 million state subsidy to help them build a $420 million government-owned stadium that would be rented to the Marlins for its 81 baseball dates each year.

Team officials have unsuccessfully sought state assistance three times previously and claim they could be forced to move elsewhere if they don't get a new ballpark. The Marlins now play home games in the reconfigured confines of the home field of the NFL's Miami Dolphins in northern Miami-Dade County.

The measure is still alive in the Senate despite opposition by that chamber's leadership.

It also has the backing of Gov. Jeb Bush and Bense's designated successor, Rep. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, who could use his growing political clout in the House to rally support for the ballpark if a Senate bill comes through.

After bouncing around for several weeks, the Senate version (SB 1306) finally gained some traction when it came through the Commerce and Consumer Services Committee on a 6-2 vote Wednesday.

That measure creates an additional slot for the team to qualify for an annual $2 million subsidy administered by the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development and the quasi private Enterprise Florida, Inc.

However, Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, is on the record that he wants any proposal to include a request for money for a NASCAR Hall of Fame in Volusia County and another request from the Orlando Magic to refurbish its 16-year-old downtown arena.

A poll earlier this year by Quinnipiac University reported more than three-fourths of those surveyed opposed tax dollars going to stadium costs.

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^I don't think that's in downtown....


That area is Little Havana near the 112 next to the OB (Orange Bowl).

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Miami-Dade stadium proposal wins preliminary approval in state House

By Linda Kleindienst

and Mark Hollis Tallahassee Bureau

Posted April 27 2005



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Marlins seeking a miracle to get subsidy from state

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is personally pushing a bill in Tallahassee to help the Marlins build a stadium, but the measure appears lifeless in the state Senate.


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TALLAHASSEE - Miami Mayor Manny Diaz prowled the halls of the Capitol on Monday, lobbying state senators for a $60 million sales-tax subsidy for a new ballpark for the Florida Marlins, even as prospects for state cash appeared increasingly remote.

The state House of Representatives signed off on the subsidy almost a week ago, but the measure, loaded with millions of dollars in tax breaks for other sports facilities, remains moribund in the Senate. Reviving the measure, Senate Majority Leader Alex Villalobos and Senate President Tom Lee said Monday, would require a nod from two-thirds of the chamber.

Read more: Miami Herald

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I'm very much afraid that we Floridians are going to have to learn to say things like:

(1) Las Vegas Marlins

(2) Kansas City Magic

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