The Florida Marlins’ plans to land a new stadium are making headlines again, but what sort of headlines depends on what Florida paper you read. In the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, it’s “Marlins stadium deal progressing,” with praise from MLB COO Bob DuPuy on the negotiators’ “spirit of cooperation and determination” and word from a Miami official that they hope to move forward in a month or two. The deal, the paper reports, is “expected to include a contribution from the Marlins, hotel bed taxes from Miami-Dade County and property taxes generated by development in the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency district near the stadium property” - which all sounds very nice and promising and public-private partnershippy, even if it’s not quite clear what a “Community Redevelopment Agency district” is.
The latest plan to build the cash-strapped Florida Marlins a new stadium in downtown Miami involves using millions of dollars of money meant to improve blighted neighborhoods.
It also calls for the city of Miami to deed property to Miami-Dade County so the Marlins — which would lease the stadium — could receive a tax break. And it requires money, once again, from the state Legislature.
Okay, maybe not so promising after all.
The hotel tax idea has been kicking around for years; the other pieces are new, but still not enough, apparently, to eliminate the need for state money, which has been what’s tripped up every previous Marlins stadium plan. It doesn’t help that the price tag for a retractable-roofed stadium is now expected to be nearly half a billion dollars, or 50% more than was projected just three years ago.
In any case, talk of a Marlins stadium is a sign that winter is almost over, and opening day of the state legislative season is just around the corner. Look for Marlins president David Samson (2004: “It has to happen in the next week. And if not, we’ll move on”; 2005: “We’re going to seriously explore all of our options, including those in other markets … We really have no wiggle room left”) to toss out his first pitch any day now.