We think that if we polled Fish fans (and we may just do that soon), the majority would admit that they prefer a downtown site but they would also say that they’ll take a stadium anywhere as long as it solves the teams financial problems and ensures they stay in South Florida. We should all remember that as we analyze the latest ballpark news.
Miami-Dade county manager George Burgess contends that the downtown Miami site is just too expensive and he wants everyone to focus on the Orange Bowl site. Since Burgess has long been one of the biggest advocates for a Marlins stadium, it maybe time for reality to sink in and for all of us to just get over that downtown site.
The good news is that $38 million of the Orange Bowl renovation funds can probably be directed towards an OB ballpark. That should easily close most of the gap. Now, construction costs always exceed expectations so the sides still need to work through the cost overrun details. Initially, the Marlins were going to take care of that. But if they have to take the OB site instead of downtown, it is likely that they will push back on this issue and demand more from the County. In fact, the Miami Herald openly suggests that the Marlins might drop their own contribution from the current $207 million. This sounds like something that came from inside the Marlins organization.
In another interesting twist, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz spoke with Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber about an expansion team playing in a duel-purpose baseball/soccer stadium. It is safe to say that the Marlins would not be happy with that scenario. Hopefully the city and County aren’t dumb enough to prioritize this adventure ahead of the Marlins (as they did with the UM situation).
We have a suggestion. Miami-Dade should focus on a downtown ballpark for the Marlins. It makes the most sense for the game, the team, and MLB. Between MLB’s willingness to buy some of the land and the Marlins’ willingness to throw in more money for a good site, there must be a way to work this deal. As for the Orange Bowl, the county should wreck it and work with developers to build things that would benefit the local community (examples: supermarket, stores, library, park). This money could help offset some of the added costs of the Marlins downtown site while bringing the right kind of development to the community (instead of the ballpark which doesn’t really help). Oh, and if MLS wants in, then cut a deal similar to the one being discussed in DC where DC United wants to build a stadium on land not far from the new baseball stadium and is seeking commercial development rights around the new stadium to offset some costs.