Sports Outside the Beltway

A vote on a new Florida Marlins baseball stadium

The Miami city commission voted yesterday on a plan to build the Florida Marlins a new baseball stadium.

Miami city commissioners on Thursday unanimously endorsed a nonbinding $490 million financing plan for a new Florida Marlins stadium, while the push for a downtown location for the facility continued to lose steam.

Commissioners, following similar action by county leaders earlier this week, approved the preliminary stadium funding plan but removed a portion of it that named a nine-acre piece of public land adjacent to downtown’s Government Center complex as the top location choice. The question of where to build is left unsettled in the plan.

Criticisms of the downtown site have included its relatively small size and the fact that it would complicate efforts to build a children’s courthouse and Miami police training facility/specialized public high school on the same land.

”The downtown site looked good. However, I think that other sites in Miami, including the Orange Bowl, could be very good sites,” City Manager Pete Hernandez told city commissioners. Hernandez asked commissioners to endorse the work-in-progress stadium plan on Thursday so it could be presented to state lawmakers in Tallahassee.

The stadium proposal, despite considerable contributions from both city and county governments, still has a $30 million funding gap. Major League Baseball and local elected officials are hoping the Legislature will close that gap by granting a sales tax rebate.

Thursday’s vote sends a message to the state Capitol that ”the city of Miami wants the Marlins in Miami,” Hernandez said.

The Orange Bowl site, which has been the subject of talks for years but has stalled in the past, is now heavily in play again. Its fate may hinge on whether the University of Miami moves its football games from there to Dolphin Stadium, something UM is considering. The school is expected to make a decision within two months.

Logistically speaking, Hernandez said building a Marlins stadium at the Orange Bowl would likely be easier than building downtown, though he declined to rule out the downtown site.

TFM has been opposed to using public money for a Marlins stadium all along. I say if they Marlins ownership doesn’t like Dolphins stadium, build your own or move.

Now yesterday’s vote really means little but may not be a good sign. Another half billion dollars could be spent on a sports stadium and one in Miami’s downtown area. We all know how well the Miami Arena worked to revitalize that area.

Alex at SOTP raises a good point about the proposed Orange Bowl site.

Let me tell you why an Orange Bowl location blows.

By putting the stadium in Little Havana, you have essentially lost your Broward and Palm Beach audience. I live in South Broward and let me tell you, the last thing I want to do is try to drive to the OB during rush hour. Most of the evening games start at around 7 which means patrons from Broward and Palm Beach would be driving down I-95, the Palmetto, the Turnpike or the even more nightmarish secondary roads of Miami-Dade County anywhere from 5 to 7 PM. No way is that going to happen. Weekends are obviously a little different but still, Broward and Palm Beach drivers will have to drive deep into Miami-Dade County instead of hopping off the turnpike at the county line.

There are no mass transit alternatives to take you to an OB stadium location like there would be at a downtown location. And the people who would love to grab a bite to eat after work and then wander over to a downtown stadium and catch a game before heading home will not even consider jumping in their car to battle their way over to the OB.

Yes siree, only a complete masochist dedicated baseball fans will want to make the drive through hellish Miami traffic to the OB area. The same applies to downtown also. Building a baseball stadium in either area is simply insane.

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Yes, the City of Miami should buy the land directly East of the Orange Bowl, demolish the houses there and together with the County, State and Major League Baseball build a baseball park with a retractable roof. There is so much waist in local, county, state and federal governments that the $500 million would be a lasting landmark that would bring not only commerce but tourist dollars. Other waistful government spending is never even available to look at or touch.

Posted by Luis Caballero | March 16, 2007 | 11:23 am | Permalink

A downtown location is better than the OB location. At the downtown location, baseball fans can walk to bayside and grab something to eat and drink while waiting for the game to start or after the game is finished. Downtowm Miami also has its metro rail systems making transportation and parking much easier. The Orange Ball location has nothing to walk to and from after or before the game begins. Downtown Miami is a growing community and a stadium built in the heart of downtown Miami its a Great idea for the community. If safety is an issue. The Miami Police Department is a block away. Security around the new Performing Arts Center is Great. Miami knows how to protect its visitors.

Posted by Oscar | March 19, 2007 | 03:31 pm | Permalink

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