Marlins remain committed to Orange Bowl site, call private ballpark proposal
By Scott E. Pacheco
The Florida Marlins remain locked in on the former Orange Bowl site in Little Havana for a new baseball stadium, despite having other options.
Those include an offer from Palm Beach businessman Glenn Straub, who says he is willing to build and finance a park in downtown Miami, or negotiating a new deal with Dolphin Stadium's new owner Steve Ross.
"Considering that we've had no contact with Glenn Straub we view this as nothing more than a publicity stunt," a Marlins spokesman said. "It's not an option whatsoever."
Asked about possibly re-upping with the Dolphin Stadium, the team responded that "our focus is on 2012 at the Orange Bowl site."
Even if the team were open to Mr. Straub's proposal, a Miami City Commission rejection of the proposed Marlins Stadium deal March 19 could set a new park way back, said Miami-Dade commission Chairman Dennis Moss.
"It may basically end things for a while," he said. "All of the things that you have to look at in terms of even considering (a new location) would basically move this project off of schedule by a significant amount of time."
City Manager Pete Hernandez agreed, and said even if a third party such as Mr. Straub were to own all the land and have all the money ready, "it's not quite that easy" and it would likely take a "year or more" before a shovel could hit the dirt.
A major-use special permit generally takes nine months to clear, he said. Additionally, a stadium builder would have to work with utility companies to make sure there is proper infrastructure to support a stadium, do traffic studies depending on location, look at parking and deal with possible neighborhood objections.
"It can get quite involved," Mr. Hernandez said.
Mr. Straub, who owns the 5-acre parcel at Northwest Eighth Street and North Miami Avenue where the Miami Arena once stood, said about 17 acres are available, including 11.7 acres from his property, railroad property and a dead-end street, plus 5.5 acres that Major League Baseball acquired options on several years ago.
He has said his proposal to furnish the land and build a stadium would alleviate the strain on taxpayers, who are being counted on heavily to fund the proposed ballpark in Little Havana,
He added that he has been approached recently by city and county commissioners who have inquired about the land but refuses to identify who approached him.
"We're ready to go — just giving them the opportunity to come and do it," said Mr. Straub in a recent interview. He did not return a call for comment.
In August, Marlins President David Samson said the odds of moving to downtown fall somewhere between "zero and negative," and "the site at Little Havana is the proper site for baseball," — though the team for years sought a downtown site, including the arena land.
Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has said that a privately financed stadium "would alleviate my concern for the general fund," as he fears that building the stadium under the current agreement terms is a big gamble that could drive the city to dip into the general fund to finance the project.