Miami Marlins' ballpark hits below-budget trajectory
By Ashley Hopkins
The new Marlins stadium is just 60 days from completion, but as the county continues to close out ballpark bid packages, Miami-Dade finance officials are optimistic that excess money will be available for the project's capital reserve fund.
Original construction agreements said Miami-Dade was to put $347.5 million into construction, while the City of Miami was to provide $13.5 million plus build parking.
The Marlins' original share was to be $154 million for construction and $1 million for the design portion of public infrastructure. However, the county's 2009 bond sale fell $6.2 million short and the Marlins agreed to cover the shortfall, reducing the county share to $341.3 million and increasing the team's to $160.2 million.
The team agreed to pay the county $2.3 million a year, rising 2% yearly, once the stadium is done. The Marlins count those payments in their $160.2 million share as well as any team expenses related to the ballpark, including architectural drawings and attorney fees associated with the project.
If the project is under budget, any remaining funds owed from the Marlins' share will go into a capital reserve fund to repair the ballpark as issues arise, said Jose Galan, program legislation chief for the county's Internal Services Department.
The county is in the process of closing out bid packages on the project, Mr. Galan said, and potential claims by prime contractors will determine the amount that can go into the stadium's capital reserve.
In the meantime, he said, the county is "cautiously optimistic" that capital reserve funds will be available once construction in done.
As the April 4 opening day nears, the county has spent about $25 million of $35 million it got for the Marlins' ballpark share from bonds the county issued in 2011 to cover hard project costs, including construction and consulting expenses, Mr. Galan said.
The county lent that $35 million to the Marlins at no interest in the deal.
The Marlins say they have expended $38 million of their $160.2 million share of the ballpark work, Mr. Galan said, adding that ballpark agreements were structured so that most of the Marlins' funds would be expended after the county and city's shares.
As the team would be responsible for overruns, the county continues to review and verify the funds the team lists as having been spent for the project, Mr. Galan said. The county, he said, will then dispute any charges that it feels should not be included in the project's costs.
"We are going to deny certain elements of that," Mr. Galan said in a prior interview. "We will resolve it between us."
The Marlins provided the county a 14-page listing of $38 million in spending they've counted in their share of the Little Havana ballpark's cost.
Among smaller listings, the Marlins state they've paid Comcast $2,037 for cable TV and internet, L2L Digital Printing $3,583 for aerial shots and prints of the ballpark, Flora E. Montoya $26,870 for cleaning, $897 on office supplies at Office Depot and $8,997 on office supplies at Direct Office Supplies.
The line items include $78,083 per month in office staff payroll and $5,000 monthly auto and accommodations allowances, plus legal fees that include more than $1 million to Holland & Knight alone. They also include telephone services for the team's sales center.
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