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Front Page » Top Stories » Clock Ticking On Funds For Baseball Stadium

Clock Ticking On Funds For Baseball Stadium

Written by on February 21, 2002

By Paola Iuspa
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The Florida Marlins’ new owner wants to hold community summits to discuss a stalled baseball stadium bid, but Miami-Dade County’s self-imposed deadline for pitching in $118 million toward construction continues to draw closer without a plan on the table.

County commissioners agreed less than a year ago to reserve $118 million in Convention Development Tax projected revenues to help pay for a proposed $500 million stadium.

But the deal requires a final financing plan for construction to be in place and for county commissioners to officially pledge the tax revenues by December 2003, said George Burgess, assistant county manager.

A previously proposed financing plan between the county, the City of Miami and former Marlins owner John Henry missed a September deadline and the team has since been sold.

If the county’s deadline for the funds is missed, Mr. Burgess said, the next groups waiting in line would get the money – or at least part of it.

Miami Beach officials say their city is next in line for the funds as set forth in a year-old contract with the county. They expect to walk away with $50 million to expand the Miami Beach Convention Center if the team does not come up with a stadium proposal in time.

Another problem for any group hoping for funds is that Mr. Burgess said he is not sure if the county will produce the same revenues that it had projected before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In that case, there might not be any money for anyone on the waiting list for tax funds. He said the convention development tax, generated by tourism, has gone down about 25% since September.

"We expect revenues to improve as we move farther from Sept. 11," he said. "We are looking at its progress month by month now" to be able to determine its growth rate and draw new projections.

P.G. Loyello, the Marlins’ spokesman, said former Montreal Expos owner Jeffrey Loria, who purchased the team Saturday and promised to keep it in South Florida, is in no rush to make a stadium decision without community feedback.

"He wants to get community’s input, before coming up with a plan about a new stadium," Mr. Loyello said Tuesday.

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said he would like the stadium in Miami but was not ready to say how far he was willing to go to meet his goal.

"I have not been approached by Mr. Loria yet," he said, "but I am willing to listen to what he might have to say." Top Front Page About Miami Today Put Your Message in Miami Today Contact Miami Today © Copyright 2001 Miami Today designed and produced by Green Dot Advertising and Marketing Solutions