The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to rewrite state law and it could have the ancillary benefit for the Marlins.
Lightning officials want to rewrite current state law that gives professional teams an annual $2-million rebate in sales tax revenue. They want the new law to provide for an additional $2-million annually over 30 years .
That amounts to $60-million in new aid for each team venue that meets certain qualifications.
The money could go only to the sports facility, for improvements from new seating to playing surfaces.
All nine major professional sports franchises in Florida could seek the benefit, from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Florida Marlins and Orlando Magic.
Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, is drafting the bill and points to provisions that require any franchise, should it leave Florida within 15 years, to agree to reimburse the state for future payments the venue would receive.
"I wanted to make sure that if we're going to dish out money for economic development, whether it's for Home Depot, the Lightning or the Marlins, that those tax dollars are spent responsibly," Fasano said.
By accepting the money, the team agreed to stay at least four years and would face financial penalties for leaving before 2020.
Times have changed for the Marlins. Not only would the franchise benefit under Fasano's bill but Sen. Rudy Garcia, R-Hialeah, has separate legislation to help the Marlins get a new ballpark.
Gov. Charlie Crist recently said he supports helping the Marlins, noting that sports venues benefit not only owners but the people who sell hotdogs and parking.
The Lightning came close to getting the aid last year. The bill passed the Senate in the final minutes of the 2006 session and was sent over to the House. But time had run out - literally - and the session came to an end.
We also know the pain of "time had run out". I'm not exactly sure what to think about the Lightning's proposal. Naturally if it goes through both houses it will benefit the Marlins. Unfortunately they don't seem to have much more clout with the state legislators than our favorite baseball team, so I wouldn't hold my breath .
The staying in Florida requirement shouldn't be much of problem if a stadium deal were to materialize. Especially since MLB has publicly stated it wants a team in South Florida. But all of that said, I feel the Marlins best chance of receiving funding from the state will be the proposal put forth by Sen. Rudy Garcia, R-Hialeah. Though it is nice to hear a northern state senator mention the Marlins as possible candidates for state funds.
I still think that MLB should step in and close the funding gap, if they really want a team in South Florida. Whether it be in the form of a loan or a gift. But they won't.
In a related topic, I did find another proposal for a new stadium design.
Best I can tell it doesn't have a retractable roof, just one made of glass. That idea didn't work very well for the Astrodome and the club was forced to paint over it because the grass wouldn't grow and it caused problems fielding fly balls. Maybe grass is more hearty now and the stadium would be better positioned.
Granted it is just an artist rendition, so who knows if this design was accepted what it would actually look like. Building it over the MetroRail is kind of interesting.
Here is the text that goes along with the drawing.