Not only did Miami-Dade County agree to a Miami Marlins ballpark financing plan that will end up costing taxpayers over a billion dollars, the project ended up coming in under budget -- with the Marlins pocketing the savings.
Well, maybe not pocketing. But the fact is the Marlins and not the county will benefit from the savings. Any construction savings will be rolled into a standard ballpark fund for future maintenance and improvement costs. So far the Marlins have spent only $102 million of the $131 million dedicated to ballpark construction. And while that number is bound to go up -- several contracts still need to be closed -- there will undoubtedly be savings on the $515-million construction cost.
These days a professional ballpark is a continual work in process: fans expect something new at the start of every season, no matter how old the ballpark. (Just ask the Minnesota Twins, who have made annual improvements to Target Field; this season will see some new open seating in right field.) So the maintenance/improvement fund will definitely be tapped.
Still, the fact that the Marlins and not the county will benefit from any construction cost savings is bound to be a little offputting to the Miami citizens on the hook for ballpark debt. Miami-Dade County made a pretty bad financial deal, and many pointed out that fact when it was debated several years ago. The county commission took a Wimpy approach to financing the ballpark -- they're gladly paying in several years for the hamburger consumed today. The ballpark deal was messed up on so many levels: the Little Havana location may not have been the best choice (downtown would have been better, in retrospect), city staff and elected officials didn't deeply vet the funding mechanism (though many of us pointed out the high costs of borrowing the construction money), and opposition was poorly organized. The Marlins did end up with a pretty sweet financing deal -- but they were helped every step along the way by elected officials.
Image courtesy Populous.
RELATED STORIES: Marlins, county sparring over team contribution to new ballpark; Reax to new Marlins ballpark; Total cost of new Marlins ballpark: $2.4 billion; Last-minute changes popping up with Marlins ballpark financing; Next up for Marlins ballpark: financing the project; County approves financing plan for new Marlins ballpark -- with reservations; New Marlins ballpark passes design hurdle; Miami-Dade County Commission approves Marlins ballpark; Miami City Commission approves new Marlins ballpark
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