Commissioners Have Doubts About Stadium Site
Written by Dan Dolan on February 22, 2007
By Dan Dolan
Only minutes after a Florida Senate Committee approved two bills Tuesday for a special state tax break to help fund construction of a $500 million baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins, Miami-Dade County commissioners got a severe case of jitters over the downtown location under consideration for months.
Despite ongoing negotiations between Miami-Dade officials and Major League Baseball executives, commissioners Joe Martinez and Audrey Edmonson said they aren’t sure the stadium should be built on 9 acres of government land next to the county’s Stephen P. Clark Center on Northwest Third Street.
"I want a stadium, and I want to keep the Marlins here. But the question is location," Mr. Martinez said. "It’s not going to fit on the proposed site. We’re going to lose the county’s parking lots, a day-care center, move the new juvenile courthouse and close a bunch of streets. I think this location is a mess and will create massive traffic jams."
Ms. Edmonson said she fears stadium traffic would destroy residential areas and hurt efforts to bring redevelopment to the neighborhoods. "I’m concerned we’re taking funds for sports and arts centers and putting them over people."
Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz said the site might not have enough votes to win commission approval. He said other locations, including the Orange Bowl and the old Miami Arena, are back on the table.
"Major League Baseball definitely wants to build a stadium somewhere downtown," said Mr. Diaz, the commission’s representative in the negotiations. He said talks are at a critical stage. He expects baseball executives to reveal construction plans within two weeks.
A state tax rebate is essential to financing the stadium, Mr. Diaz said. The county would pay for construction with bonds backed by bed-tax revenue. State money could cover any shortfall. The Marlins’ rent would help repay the bonds.