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Front Page » Top Stories » Orange Bowl Makes Comeback In Baseball Stadium Discussion

Orange Bowl Makes Comeback In Baseball Stadium Discussion

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Written by on March 8, 2007

By Dan Dolan
Plans for a $500 million baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins in downtown Miami were thrown a sharp curve Tuesday as Miami-Dade County commissioners put the Orange Bowl back in play.

Led by Commissioner Joe Martinez, the panel balked at a proposal pushed by Mayor Carlos Alvarez and County Manager George Burgess to build a stadium on 9 acres of government-owned land on Northwest Third Street.

After a long and occasionally strident debate, commissioners offered the Orange Bowl as an alternative solution and directed the county administration to negotiate a deal with the Marlins and Major League Baseball that would cover both potential sites.

"Obviously, the manager realizes this downtown site isn’t going to fly," Commission Chairman Bruno Barreiro said. "We need to make our negotiations non-site specific."

In an 11-1 vote with Katy Sorenson in opposition, the commission adopted broad parameters for a construction deal with the Marlins and Major League Baseball. The terms include $145 million in county funding, $108 million from the City of Miami and $30 million in special tax breaks from the state. The Marlins would contribute $45 million in cash and pay $162 million in rent to cover bonds issued to finance construction.

Although the county would own the stadium, the Marlins would design and build the park and be responsible for cost overruns. But several commissioners expressed fears that the county would end up with the tab.

Mr. Burgess said any contract would include ironclad guarantees limiting government contributions to the project. He said the Third Street site, owned by the county and the City of Miami, is the most viable location for a stadium. However, Mr. Martinez and a majority of the commission seemed unconvinced.

"Let’s put the Marlins in the Orange Bowl," Mr. Martinez said. "I’m dead-set against the downtown site."

Mr. Martinez said the downtown tract across the street from the county’s Stephen P. Clark Center is too small and presents too many problems — a limited parking, forcing the relocation of a planned $300 million juvenile-justice center, demolition of a day-care center — to be viable.

Even though she said she prefers the downtown site to the Orange Bowl, Ms. Sorenson voted against the negotiation package because she opposes public funding of professional sports stadiums.

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