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Front Page » Top Stories » Miami Officials Suggest Building Atrium With Ballpark

Miami Officials Suggest Building Atrium With Ballpark

Written by on May 13, 2004

By Susan Stabley
Miami city officials would consider building a revenue-producing atrium between a new baseball stadium and the Orange Bowl.

The concept calls for a city-owned building that could be used for banquets and meetings and form a sports complex by linking the two stadiums, said Mayor Manny Diaz’ senior economic-development adviser Otto Boudet-Murias. The city, and not the Florida Marlins, would take profits from events at the atrium, he said.

The proposal for an atrium is separate from a preliminary stadium plan approved 8-3 Tuesday by Miami-Dade County commissioners and unanimously backed last week by Miami city commissioners.

The financing deal between the county and city calls for a $325 million retractable-roof stadium along Southwest 17th Avenue next to the Orange Bowl. Also in the deal is a $32 million 2,500-space parking garage developed and operated by the team but owned by the city.

The Marlins would use revenues from the 38,000-seat stadium to pay off debt for the garage and keep game-day parking revenues. The city and the team would share proceeds from non-game events.

A $30 million gap in funds remains in the $367 million plan for a new stadium and garage. A request for funds from the state likely will have to wait until the Legislature reconvenes next spring.

According to a memo from Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess to county commissioners, he and Miami City Manager Joe Arriola "feel the ballpark project can be successful in securing state participation next year, especially if a well-packaged funding request is submitted at the beginning of the legislative session."

Included in the preliminary financing plan for a ballpark is a public aquarium and community center, Mr. Boudet-Murias said. The aquarium might be omitted, but an added attraction, perhaps retail stores, should be incorporated into the building, he said.

An atrium could connect the two structures and provide an attraction when games are not being played, he said. The atrium proposal is in preliminary discussion and is not part of the ballpark financing plan.

Commissioner Joe Sanchez, whose district includes the Orange Bowl, has proposed an economic study of the surrounding neighborhood to prepare for growth that might be created in the wake of a new ballpark.

Land-acquisition costs are expected to be $10 million. Under the current financing plan, the city would kick in $28 million from a tourism tax.

The county would contribute:

•$35 million from its Convention Development Tax fund.

•$38 million from its Professional Sports Franchise Facilities Tax.

•$23 million from freed-up money from the Convention Development Tax if the city sells Miami Arena.

•$24 million from an adjustment to revenues this year from the Convention Development Tax.

Revenues from the Convention Development Tax has rebounded 2.4% since 9/11, according to Mr. Burgess, and is up 15.2 % this year from the same period last year.

To pay for the ballpark, the Marlins have pledged $127 million in rent, $20 million in equity and $10 million to be raised through a ticket surcharge of 70 cents.

The ballpark would be managed, operated, marketed and maintained by the team, and any cost overruns would be the Marlins’ responsibility, according to the deal.