Soccer May Join Florida Marlins On Orange Bowl Land
Written by Risa Polansky on December 13, 2007
By Risa Polansky
Miami’s soon-to-be razed Orange Bowl could be replaced by not only a Florida Marlins ballpark but also a Major League Soccer stadium, a soccer spokesman says.
League officials have "been in discussions with Miami City Mayor Manny Diaz to secure funding for a soccer stadium that would serve as home to an MLS expansion team," said Dan Courtemanche, senior vice president of marketing and communications.
The Orange Bowl site is "the one they’ve [city officials] initiated interest in," he said. And soccer officials agree the Little Havana neighborhood would allow the league to "closely connect to our core soccer audience."
An 18,000- to 27,000-seat stadium would cost "generally $85 million to $125 million," he said.
He deferred questions regarding funding sources to the city. Officials, including Mayor Diaz, did not return calls and e-mails.
The soccer venue would probably require about 10 acres of the 40-acre Orange Bowl site, Mr. Courtemanche said. Discussions have included, he said, "how a baseball stadium and a soccer stadium could co-exist on that site."
All talks have been "very preliminary," he emphasized.
Funding could be roadblock.
A county- and city-funded retractable-roof baseball stadium alone long faced a $30 million funding gap that appeared to shut when the University of Miami football team left the Orange Bowl, freeing money earmarked for revamping the existing structure.
But in late October, City Manager Pete Hernandez told commissioners the Marlins might renege on their commitment to contribute a full $45 million cash and $162 million rent because "they feel that the Orange Bowl site is not as ideal" as a downtown site no longer available, creating "a greater gap which has been concerning to the city and the county."