Moss To Seek Changes In Marlins Name Spring Training
By Eric Kalis
The Florida Marlins would be required to change their name and move their spring training to Homestead to attract the support of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dennis Moss for construction of a new stadium.
Mr. Moss is to ask fellow commissioners at a meeting of the Airport and Tourism Committee today (5/17) to support clauses to change the team’s name to the Miami Marlins and require the franchise to move their March preseason games from Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter to the Homestead Sports Complex as part of a deal for a $490 million retractable-roof stadium.
Both changes would help give the Marlins a stronger local identity and attract fans in South Miami-Dade, Mr. Moss said.
The team is "not tied to a specific part of the community," Mr. Moss said Monday. "If we put up the money to build a stadium in Miami-Dade, the name should be changed."
While the name change would strengthen the team’s ties to local fans, bringing Grapefruit League baseball to Homestead offers tangible benefits such as tourist tax revenue that would be used to help fund the county’s share of a new stadium, Mr. Moss said.
The 6,500-seat baseball stadium at 1601 SE 28th Ave. was built in 1991 to be the spring-training home for the Cleveland Indians, but Hurricane Andrew thwarted those plans. The stadium has been used primarily by college baseball teams.
"The facility has been maintained," Mr. Moss said. "The city is very interested in this happening. Homestead is not the sloppy backwater town it was viewed as in the past. There is a tremendous amount of housing, office and commercial" opportunities.
Homestead City Manager Curt Ivy said Monday that the city is open to the possibility of hosting spring-training games but cautioned that Major League Baseball officials said when discussing Marlins stadium options that Homestead is too far south. The complex would need some upgrading to accommodate the Marlins, Mr. Ivy said.
Owner Jeffrey Loria moved the Marlins to Roger Dean Stadium, which they share with the St. Louis Cardinals, in 2003. Mr. Loria, who has an ownership interest in Roger Dean, was not available to confirm if there would be any restrictions on moving the Marlins’ spring training to Homestead.
Hopes for a new stadium in downtown Miami took a hit when a bill for a $60 million, 30-year sales-tax rebate for the Marlins failed to come up for a vote in the Florida Senate before the legislative session ended this month. Under that proposal, the county would own and finance a stadium but the Marlins would build it and absorb any costs above the $490 million price tag.
The item could be revisited when the Legislature reconvenes June 12.
The team’s lease at Dolphin Stadium expires in 2010.