After more than a decade of working for a new ballpark under two separate ownership groups, the Florida Marlins are finally in the driver’s seat after the Miami-Dade County Commission approved a funding plan.
After more than a decade of working for a new ballpark under two separate ownership groups, the Florida Marlins are finally in the driver’s seat after the Miami-Dade County Commission approved a funding plan, making the new facility a reality.
The final vote, which passed by a 9-4 margin, represents years of struggle and is a final, clear victory for the Marlins ownership and Major League Baseball. Indeed, the lease worked out by the team is one of the sweetest in baseball, as pointed out continually by ballpark opponents. The team will put up $155 million toward the new ballpark, but $35 million of that will come in the form of rent; with the team retaining naming rights and being able to continue sucking up MLB revenue-sharing funds, the team could be in a position to basically pay nothing for the new 37,000-seat ballpark.
With Miami-Dade County signing off on the $634-million retractable-roof facility, slated to open in 2012, the funding and legislative pieces are all in place. Last week the Miami City Commission passed its portion of the ballpark plan, committing $13 million toward the project and agreeing to fund a new parking ramp at the ballpark location to the tune of $94 million. In addition, the city will pay $12 million in local infrastructure improvements.
All in all, Miami-Dade County will pay $297 million generated from tourist taxes, $50 million in another bond and $12 million for local infrastructure. The issue for many: to generate this much, the county will need to actually issue more than a billion in bonds.
Still, the vote doesn’t mean the ballpark is a sure deal. The county still has many outs should tourism-tax revenues not materialize to budgeted levels. And there’s always the chance — slim, to be sure– the county will be unable to sell the billion-plus in bonds needed for this project as well as other county projects.
One final note: as part of the deal, the team will become the Miami Marlins upon moving into the new ballpark.
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