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Front Page » Opinion » Marlins contract makes soccer next door a tougher game

Marlins contract makes soccer next door a tougher game

Written by on July 28, 2015
Marlins contract makes soccer next door a tougher game

Much as we might want a Major League Soccer stadium near Marlins Park, the clock is running out and obstacles loom, an unreported barrier being the Miami Marlins.

The group David Beckham fronts has yet to secure a franchise from the league, which has made a soccer-specific stadium a condition to get in at a bargain-basement price. The deadline is just three months off.

So the Beckham group, which began by seeking public bayfront land free, has more than a year later settled on the inland spot that then city Mayor Manny Diaz was pushing for both baseball and soccer structures seven years ago.

Last week city commissioners agreed to open talks for a soccer stadium beside the ballpark to deal with what the city would get for its land, including cash or stadium revenue streams, and what else the team seeks from the city. If those talks succeed, Miami-Dade County negotiations would follow. The University of Miami might seek a stadium-sharing deal. Then would come league approval.

With all those moving parts – not to mention finances of the franchise, which must pay the league, build a stadium, hire players and run a team until it turns a profit – the chosen site has pluses but also vital limitations.

One plus is that the city owns much of the land, though the soccer team or the city would have to move and pay off commercial and residential occupants in its mid-section, and the city might need to reposition surface baseball parking lots now on its land.

The other plus is that four city-owned garages built for baseball provide more than 5,000 spaces for soccer fans and stadium users for all other events.

Those two key assets should enhance the site for soccer as Mayor Diaz intended.

Unfortunately for Mr. Beckham, the other half of the old soccer-baseball plan led to a sweetheart deal for baseball that hobbles soccer.

The city-county contract that led to a baseball stadium and cost taxpayers almost $3 billion handed the baseball team primacy over soccer and requires the city to compel a soccer team next door to comply with its strictures.

One restriction is that soccer can’t sell stadium naming rights until baseball sells its own. But the baseball stadium is in its fourth season and the team still can’t sell those rights because the stadium giveaway deal became a toxic issue.

Further, even if the Marlins someday sell stadium naming rights, soccer can’t sell rights that conflict with the Marlins’ stadium sponsor.

Naming rights could play into the Beckham team’s plans. Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire sold the Toyota Park name for $7.5 million for 10 years. Toyota also is the name on a league stadium in Texas, while another Texas stadium is named for BBVA Compass bank. The league’s all-star game this week is being played in Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado. There’s Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts, Red Bull Arena in New Jersey and so on.

More on sponsors: no soccer exterior ads may conflict with a major Marlins sponsor. But if soccer sells an exterior ad that doesn’t conflict, the Marlins can then sign a conflicting sponsor and the soccer sponsor can’t renew.

Every line of the contract, in fact, tilts baseball’s way.

Soccer stadium architecture must mesh with baseball’s and not reflect light toward it. The Marlins get to review all soccer stadium plans, specifications and leases before construction or lease execution.

Soccer stadium construction may not interfere with baseball from two hours before to one hour after a ballpark game or an event – events Marlins owners book and profit from.

No soccer could be played until four hours after baseball. The Marlins get first choice of dates and times.

The soccer team can’t schedule any games at home from March 15 to Nov. 15 until the Marlins choose their own dates. The soccer team gets the leftovers, though a soccer team would get 13 Saturday nights yearly that the Marlins leave clear.

All that’s well and good, but if the Marlins change their schedule, guess what? The soccer team automatically loses its reserved dates. It’s all up to the Marlins.

Then there are those garages the city built and owns. By contract, the Marlins buy spaces for $10.03 and then resell them for whatever – they’re selling parking July 30 at $15 to $20 a space, but the Aug. 11 game against Boston is $20 to $50 for city-owned spaces the team gets for $10.03.

The baseball contract requires that soccer not pay less than the Marlins do: $10.10 a space by the time a soccer stadium opens. Again, baseball gets first dibs: the Marlins get first choice for games or events from March 15-Nov. 15.

Other baseball contract restrictions: a soccer stadium can’t have a ticket brokerage, can’t have retail that competes with naming rights of baseball stadium sponsors, can’t open quick-service restaurants when the stadium isn’t in use, can’t have portable food stands or giveaways from three hours before a game or event at the baseball park to one hour after.

And more: soccer can’t sell baseball memorabilia or merchandise unless a Marlins-owned company does it. Nor can any outside company sell soccer merchandise. And no soccer stadium use ever may interfere with the baseball stadium or parking for events there, even non-sports events.

The city and county are both required to record all these restrictions in public records, just to be sure.

Other than those impediments, it’s a perfectly level playing field for soccer.

None of those barriers will come into play, of course, if the city and soccer don’t cut a deal. In talks, the city will need to protect the public interest far better than was done in the Marlins giveaway.

Since the city is dealing with a team that doesn’t even exist, an ownership whose participants are murky, a franchise that has yet to be formally granted, finances that are now secret and a sport that has already failed once in Miami, protection of the public’s assets is a must in negotiations.

It is not government’s responsibility that the team succeed. It is, however, government’s responsibility to protect the public interest and assets.

Meanwhile, the would-be franchise operators must factor in how large a barrier the baseball stadium contract poses to the success of professional soccer beside Marlins Park.

14 Responses to Marlins contract makes soccer next door a tougher game

  1. TInSouthMiami

    July 29, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    Stop the insanity and build the stadium in Tropical Park or even at the Biscayne Bay campus of FIU

    • ConcernedCitizen

      July 30, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      Biscayne Bay?!?!! Are you mad?! There’s only one road in and out of there and any additional access would still place all traffic in North Miami, where it would create a massive headache for all businesses and residents in that area.

      Holy cow is that a dumb idea!

      • TInSouthMiami

        July 30, 2015 at 6:25 pm

        Thanks for your feedback. The only issue would be more parking just as it would be at Taxpayer Park.

        The typical crowd will be in the 17,000 range

        • ConcernedCitizen

          July 31, 2015 at 10:55 am

          T, my man, you don’t want your team in that inaccessible of an area. Nor do you want it anywhere near the north part of Dade where you’re approaching Strikers territory.

          Between the eminent domain battle they’re about to face with state legislators and the terrible restrictions in place by the Marlins, this thing is dead in the water IMO.

          Wishing you luck. Please consider the well-being of those they plan to “re-locate” over this terribly risky business venture.

  2. Miguel Gutierrez

    July 30, 2015 at 12:20 am

    May I ask where are these sources? It seems like a lot of trouble Beckham would have to go through just to get construction going-wouldn’t he have known about what you’re claiming to be absolute fact? It seems odd that MBU would purposefully choose this spot if they have to go through this absurd amount of trouble just to get a stadium going. I don’t mean to challenge your journalistic integrity, but all of these “facts” seem out of the blue.

  3. Miami Today Rules

    July 30, 2015 at 8:19 am

    So true. Even though the taxpayers are forced to pay $3 Billion, the Marlins are in charge of the site including a potential soccer stadium.

  4. Miami Fan

    July 30, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Where are your sources for this article?

  5. Miami Fan

    July 30, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Great article! None of this is untrue and blown out of proportion at all!

  6. Justin

    July 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Perhaps there’s an opportunity for the Marlins to give some things up to make the deal happen, instead of the local governments. They need some good will right about now.

  7. attorney

    July 30, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    no wonder why nobody buys this newspaper i saw this nonsense posted on Facebook. the only thing Marlins have on this deal is Parking..

    Beckham has world appeal I’m sure Sprint, British Airways, China Sponsrship will line to sponsor the stadium and etc and so what now the worst team in professional sports the marlins are going to interfere. i don’t think so..

    • ConcernedCitizen

      July 30, 2015 at 3:05 pm


  8. TGA

    July 30, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    The real problem will come with the soccer out draws to beisbol on a given nite or on average….

  9. John Peros

    July 31, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    The article states that the Marlins Stadium costs the taxpayers $3 BILLION. This would make it the most expensive stadium ever built in history. Can you please confirm that number and how it was calculated?

  10. Non Timbeo

    August 1, 2015 at 10:59 am

    John Peros … Maybe the article was edited upon my reading, I don’t see that claim. My understanding was that the City floated bonds around $400M for construction that upon repayment of principle and interest would equal $1.2B in 2045 with a majority of the interest back-loaded … Borrowing huge amounts of money is very expensive … But $300B?? If this article was ever published with that fact … Not sure how credible I would take the rest of the “facts.”

    As to the language of the Marlins contract. That can be re-negotiated portions can be bought out by M.B.U. I suspect the lawyers have already had a discussion with the Marlins.