Marlins looking at three designs for new baseball stadium
By Lou Ortiz
The Florida Marlins are confident they can build a new 37,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof, 300 club seats and 60 suites for $389.4 million, documents show.
The team has already retained the services of the world-wide architectural firm of HOK Sport of Kansas City, MO, whose clients include other Major League Baseball clubs, the National Football League, along with soccer and rugby teams and universities.
The team, which would change its name to the Miami Marlins, is expected to choose from among three designs for the new ballpark.
These and other new details of a preliminary agreement between the county, City of Miami and the Marlins were released by Miami-Dade on Jan. 18.
Under the agreement, the Marlins would keep proceeds from the naming rights to the new ballpark, and construction materials used to build the stadium — totaling $525 million — would not be subject to sales taxes, pending state approval.
"The team has determined that the baseball stadium can be completed within the stadium project budget," the agreement says. But the preliminary contract stipulates that the Marlins would be bound to pay costs "that exceed the stadium project budget" of $525 million.
More specifically, the agreement requires "that the team shall be the guarantor of the Stadium Developer's obligation to pay any and all costs of planning, designing, acquiring constructing and equipping the baseball stadium that exceed the stadium project budget, including payment of any and all costs for claims."
The budget allocates $389.4 million for construction, $4.2 million to furnish the stadium and $131 million for planning, design, infrastructure and demolition of the Orange Bowl and other costs.
The county, which would own the stadium, is to contribute $249 million, Miami $121 million and the Marlins $155 million. Although its costs could be greater, the team would be required to set aside $20 million for cost overruns and any claims that resulted from building the stadium.
The project would also be exempt from local impact fees. If waivers for sales taxes and impact fees are not approved, construction costs would increase by $6.1 million and would be borne by the team, the agreement says.
The county and city would be bound to pay "for any incremental cost to the baseball stadium that may result from delays caused by it or from its failure to meet" certain deadlines, the agreement says.
For example, the costs of the stadium, which would be on a tight construction schedule, could increase if Miami failed to raze the Orange Bowl and remove debris by March 31.
The preliminary contract states that "reasonable efforts" would be made to complete construction by opening day on April 1, 2011.
County commissioners had expected to debate the preliminary contract at their meeting in December, but the matter was deferred until Jan. 10 to give the Marlins, the county and city negotiators more time to hammer out a final deal.
The holidays took their toll on negotiations, and the matter was rescheduled for the Jan. 22 board meeting.
But last week County Manger George Burgess told commissioners in a memo that "our negotiations have not concluded," and the contract may be taken up in a special meeting the last week of this month, or at the Feb. 5 regular commission meeting.
Once a contract is completed, the Marlins would have until April 30 to sign a "non-relocation agreement" with the county, assuring that the team stays in Miami for 30 years or until the city and county bonds used to build the stadium are paid.
Any amendments or waivers in the contract or agreements signed between the Marlins and the county would require approval by two-thirds of the county commission.
The preliminary agreement also requires Miami to raze the Orange Bowl, clear debris and conduct an environmental impact study by March 31 — all at city expense — and turn over the deed to the land to the county by May 31.
The county and the city would pay for infrastructure costs needed for the new stadium.
Within six months of the deal, the county or the city would provide the Marlins with at least 3,000 square feet of office space within 2 miles of the stadium "that is suitable" for the team to use as its marketing office, the agreement says.
Although the Marlins would oversee construction, the team must abide by county ordinance goals of 10% for small business participation in planning and design, and construction in government projects.
The agreement also calls for the construction manager to be a Florida contractor, with the county commission having veto power over the selection.
To keep tabs on construction, the Marlins would provide monthly updates to the county on whether the project is on schedule and at any time the projected costs and actual costs are not in balance.
"Upon written demand by the county or the city" the team "shall be obligated to bring funding of the baseball stadium in balance within three months," the agreement says.
The preliminary contract sets up three construction accounts for the new stadium, each of which will be managed by the individual entities.
The city and the county would use the interest earnings from their respective accounts to pay additional costs for the stadium, or repay bonds, the agreement says. The additional costs would have to relate to overages caused by a failure of either the city or county to meet obligations.
The Marlins, Miami and the county would also use mediation to settle any disputes.
Once the stadium is built, the city and county would have the right to use the facility for 12 community events each year. But the team could "reject any proposed community event if" it deems it a risk to the playing field, violates baseball rules, or is incompatible with any major sponsorships, among other things.
Finally, the agreement says the new stadium is an effort by all three entities to keep a Major League team in Miami.
"Each understands that a successful result," the agreement says "is dependent upon their mutual cooperation."