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Front Page » Top Stories » Study Says Downtown Miami Ballpark Must Go In Bicentennial Park

Study Says Downtown Miami Ballpark Must Go In Bicentennial Park

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Written by on September 21, 2000

By Candice Ventra
A study commissioned by the Downtown Development Authority has found that Bicentennial Park is the only downtown Miami location suitable for a baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins.

The authority, assigned to redevelop the downtown area, oversaw the study for the Miami City Commission to determine the feasibility of building a baseball stadium downtown, said Patti Allen, authority executive director.

A presentation on the findings was made last week at a Bicentennial Park Waterfront Renewal Committee meeting.

The authority hired Andrew Dolkart, president of Miami Economics Associates, to perform the study. The city could not say this week how much it paid for the stud!– font>

Mr. Dolkart said the 33-acre Bicentennial Park is where the stadium must go.

"The first reason is that it’s the only site in downtown Miami it fits on," he said. "We thought of Park West. But now the NAP of the Americas" — or Network Access Point, an Internet data relay station to be built adjacent to the Miami Arena — "will go on one of the blocks that makes up that site."

Marlins owner John Henry has also indicated in the past that he prefers Bicentennial Park for the stadium location.

Team officials have said at least 12 acres is needed for a ballpark so that the team would no longer have to share Pro Player Stadium with the Dolphins football team. That 12-acre proposal does not include space for parking. The proposed stadium would have a retractable dome, Marlins executives have said.

Last spring, the Marlins organization backed a proposal to finance the stadium by taxing cruise passengers at the Port of Miami. The bill flopped after opposition from the cruise industry and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, among others.

Other reasons for building the stadium in Bicentennial Park instead of the Park West corridor, according to Mr. Dolkart, is that the Park West corridor is a tax increment redevelopment district. Under state law, areas that are considered to be blighted may be defined as redevelopment districts — which means they can benefit from certain tax-increment financing, he said.

If a baseball stadium were to be built in Park West the area would not get the full scope of tax increments, Mr. Dolkart said. A structure such as a telecom hotel, he said, would be a better resident in Park West because it would generate more taxes.

"As we sit here today, with the telecom project, there isn’t a site in Park West the baseball stadium can go on," Mr. Dolkart said. "The real issue is if you want baseball downtown. If you do, there’s only one place to put it."

The Florida Department of Transportation also made a presentation last week to the Bicentennial Park Waterfront Renewal Committee.

Yuanet Letzelper, project engineer for the transportation department, said officials want to keep the public informed of plans to widen Biscayne Boulevard in front of Bicentennial Park. The road expansion will subtract a few acres of land from the park.

In 1990, the state’s transportation authority was given the right of way for nearly 4 acres of the waterfront property for the purpose of roadway improvement, she said.

Plans call for widening the boulevard from Northeast Fifth to 13th streets.

The estimated cost, Ms. Letzelper said, is $7.9 million but no source of funds has been identified.

"If we can get the funding," she said, "we could begin as early as 2002."

The expansion would create four each of north- and south- bound lanes, widen the median, create sidewalks and include new lighting and signals, Ms. Letzelper said.

Representatives from Bayside Marketplace and the Performing Arts Center of Miami-Dade County supported the road-expansion plan.

Jay Constantz, Bayfront Park Trust executive director, also made a presentation to the committee, saying that Bicentennial is often rented out for large events. The park drew more than 50,000 guests for two events held there so far this year: the Bob Marley Festival in February and Zeta Fest in July. Another 50,000 or so are expected to visit the park for a tentative jazz concert and electronic music festival in November, he said.

In addition to the Marlins, Bicentennial Park has become the site of choice for other local groups looking for a new location including the Miami Museum of Science and the Miami Art Museum who hope to build a 365,000 square-foot and 58,000 square-foot complex, respectively.

The next Bicentennial Park Waterfront Renewal Committee meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4 in the City of Miami Commission Chambers at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public. Details: (305) 250-5300.00.

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