Miamidade County Ups Ante In Fight Over Police For Ballpark
Written by Lou Ortiz on March 6, 2008
By Lou Ortiz
In a move that could threaten a partnership designed to give the Marlins a new stadium, Miami-Dade commissioners voted Tuesday to require the hiring of off-duty county police and firefighters at all county-owned facilities, including the ballpark.
Commissioners asked that the decree also apply to the American Airlines Arena and performing arts center — both on city land, and both currently policed by the city — but were told that agreements already signed barred the county from that course.
"We were sold out on the American Airlines Arena," said Commissioner Joe A. Martinez, a former Miami-Dade police officer. "Diplomacy would be great," he said, but "I’m not blinking."
The issue came up last month when negotiating the $525 million stadium deal.
Both the county and city approved the pact with the team and planned to work out a policing agreement within 30 days.
The commission action solidified the county’s position that it should provide public safety services at the ballpark but also took it one step further, covering all county-owned facilities.
Miami has an agreement to provide those services where city land has been conveyed to Miami-Dade for a county-owned facility, such as the arena and arts center.
City commissioners last week put their feet down as well, unanimously agreeing city police and fire should be the primary safety service providers at the stadium as they are at the other facilities within the city limits.
County Attorney R. A. Cuevas Jr. advised county commissioners they could not unilaterally change the agreements. But, he said, the city could be asked to renegotiate the deals.
Commissioner Carlos A. Gimenez, who once served as Miami’s fire chief and city manager, said he was once on the other side of the issue.
"I will support this because I believe it will put us on equal footing," he said about the resolution. "But I hope all four departments can work together."