As Miami-Dade County's boxing work goes on, sports commission awaits contract
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Without a signed contract or the go-ahead from its board of directors or its chair, the Miami-Dade Sports Commission for the past few weeks has been managing the first-year World Series of Boxing's local franchise, the Miami Gallos.
Chair and county Commissioner José "Pepe" Diaz Diaz said he still has to review the contract, which offers the sports commission $341,000 for one year, and set a meeting this week for the sports commission's board to vote, though the Gallos' season kicks off at AmericanAirlines Arena next week.
"I have to make sure that what we're getting as a contract meets the goals and needs of this county," he said. "Everything that shines is not gold, and everything that looks bad is not bad."
Meanwhile, it seems there's been little communication between Mr. Diaz and sports commission Executive Director Mike Sophia, even as the agency picked up the responsibility of running a professional sports franchise.
"From the start he's been traveling quite a bit lately and he's been involved in an election process," Mr. Sophia said.
Mr. Diaz said he learned of the team's name and the sports commission's activities on its behalf from recent Miami Today articles, but acknowledged much of the responsibility falls on his plate.
"I didn't know a lot of these things and I'm the chairman," he said. "I have to now take everything into accountability.
Though Mr. Diaz noted he's been letting the sports commission "handle it, I never told them to pull the trigger."
The commission in recent weeks has been sending out press releases documenting the team's training and sparring matches as well as its participation in a Nov. 6 Ronald McDonald House Charities fundraiser.
The website www.miami gallos.com is currently under construction and it has a regularly update Twitter profile.
While the sport of boxing has seen better days, Mr. Sophia said taking on the team will afford the sports commission more resources than it's had in recent years.
The yet-to-be-approved contract would require Mr. Sophia to dedicate no less than 80% of his time to the team but would give the sports commission resources to hire several new hands who would help with its other endeavors, such as Super Bowl, World Cup and Olympic bids.
"All told, we'll have more staff hours available for the sports commission than we've had in last two or three years," Mr. Sophia said in a previous interview. The "directors of marketing, event operations [for boxing] are people that we're going to be able to use for" sports commission work.
The season includes 12 events, six in Miami at the AmericanAirlines Arena and six at venues around the world. They kick off Nov. 16 and run until mid-March. If the Miami team moves into the playoffs, additional matches will be scheduled during April and May.
Despite the benefits, Mr. Diaz still said he wants to take a close look at the contract, overdue though it might be.
"If I don't like what I see and it doesn't make sense and it doesn't equate, I will tell the board," he said.
And even if the contract passes the sports commission's board, it may still have to face a county commission vote, though Mr. Diaz said he wasn't certain of that either.