Miamidade County Commission Gives Mayor Carlos Alvarez 60 Days To Seek Ballpark Refund From Marlins
By Ashley Hopkins
Miami-Dade is seeking reimbursement for the nearly $50 million in general obligation bond receipts it has spent on construction of the new Florida Marlins stadium, and Mayor Carlos Alvarez has 60 days to get some answers.
Concerned that the county entered into a contract for construction of the ballpark under false pretenses of team poverty, the county commission voted last week to require Mr. Alvarez to initiate dialogue with the team.
For change to occur, the county, the City of Miami and the Marlins would have to mutually agree to open up the stadium contracts.
While Marlins officials would not comment on whether the team would be open to negotiations, county spokeswoman Suzy Trutie said the mayor is meeting with the county attorney’s office to determine what can be done to initiate dialogue.
When Miami-Dade entered into a three-way contract with the City of Miami and the Florida Marlins, it was under the belief that the team was cash-strapped and struggling to stay afloat. The Marlins refused to reveal their financials to the county during negotiations, but a 2003 pro-forma attributed to the team ownership had estimated the Marlins be to $141 million in debt, with equity declining. Based on copies of Marlins financials posted in recent weeks on the internet, in 2008 and 2009 combined the team had a net income of roughly $33.3 million.
According to the construction agreement, Miami-Dade is set to contribute $347.5 million to the $515 million project while the city is to provide $13.5 million and also fund parking construction.
Of county funds, $237.5 would be financed through tourist tax dollars, $60 million though the Convention Development Tax and $50 million through general obligation bonds. The county is to repay two other bond issues over decades at a total of $2.4 billion as part of the stadium financing.
The Marlins are to put $154 million into the deal, $35 million of which will be financed through county bonds and repaid over time. The team is expected to contribute $2.3 million each year in stadium rent, which is included in that $154 million.