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The State and the Stadium

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The state sanctioned a report of the effect of sports and recreation on the state's economy.

Here we go:

The 93-page report was requested by lawmakers to determine the value of baseball spring training in the state to prevent further defections from the Grapefruit League to Arizona's Cactus League. The report says sports produce $2.1 billion in tax revenue for state and local governments.

"We did this study to see what is the economic impact in sports, with baseball in mind," said state Rep. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, who chairs the House Tourism Committee.

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And then there are nine major league sports franchises doing business in Florida. They are the second largest economic entity producing tax dollars, approximately $143 million for state and local governments.

Detert believes the report proves using tax dollars for government-owned facilities to keep big league teams in the state is good business.

She also indicated the report might benefit the Florida Marlins, who are threatening to leave the state after failing in several attempts to win state backing for a new ballpark in Miami-Dade County. By statute, the state can only help eight teams with stadium funding.

"We fund seven teams and the Marlins are already one of them," she said, referring to modifications to Dolphins Stadium the state helped finance so it could accommodate baseball. "They're controversial because in essence they want to be funded twice."

The Marlins are asking to be funded twice - I don't think so.

Wayne Huizenga doesn't own the Florida Marlins, and yet he is collecting $2 million per year through 2024 because he once did.

We're talking long-term, spend-as-you-wish cash in the form of a special state subsidy. Seed money for a crop long since sold.

Continued taxpayer support specifically designated for the retrofitting of Huizenga's football stadium for baseball.

So Huizenga is receiving the money to "retrofit" the stadium for baseball but that isn't what he is spending the money on.  It's true that Dolphin Stadium is under renovation but it has nothing to do with baseball.

Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga plans an extreme makeover of Dolphins Stadium, team officials said Thursday.

They said they hope the improvements will be complete when the stadium hosts the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, 2007.

The field will not be affected and seating areas within the stadium will not be dramatically changed. The Dolphins won't add a roof, either.

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(Joe) Bailey said the improvements have nothing to do with the Florida Marlins, who will play at Dolphins Stadium for two more seasons...

I have news for Rep. Detert: The Marlins aren't being funded by the state - you are funding the Dolphins and Wayne's Super Bowl hosting dreams.

So what do the Marlins get in return for the money provided by the state to Wayne Huizenga.

Forget that Pro Player's 70,000-seat bowl is an awkward fit for baseball, which is better suited to intimate settings. (The) lease gives the Marlins no revenue from suites and box seats, and only limited revenue from concessions, parking and signage. And the rains continue to keep people away in droves.

I'm not sure about the rain thing but the team did have the most rain delays in baseball last season - which, at times, made some of the games excruciatingly long.

I did see a complete breakdown of the lease but, unfortunately, I couldn't remember where I saw it.  Suffice it to say, it's worse than the above description, if I do find it I will report back.

The bottom line is this: The state is funding a stadium for the Dolphins and the Marlins are getting screwed in the deal.

While you may not agree with the public funding of sports stadiums, that is not the point of this post.  (We may get into public finance at a later date.  Why did everyone's eyes just glaze over?)  It's if the state feels that the funding of the stadiums is a good idea shouldn't the money be earmarked for the team it's intended?

Should the Marlins move in the next couple of years, Wayne Huizenga will still be paid two million per year until 2024.