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Stadium News - Sort of

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There will be only one post today, other than the Chum Bucket, because the only thing everyone is talking about is the possible funding for a new stadium.

After eight hours of debate, commissioners voted 9-4 to adopt a pact with Miami to extend the life and boundaries of the city's Community Redevelopment Agencies as a way to spur a wide array of projects.

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Another major beneficiary: the Florida Marlins, whose hopes for a permanent home are closer than ever. By paying off the PAC debts, the agreement shifts money toward construction of a $525 million baseball stadium in Little Havana.

If the financial details work, South Florida's two-time World Champions would have a new home by Opening Day 2011 and a new name: the Miami Marlins.

Unfortunately, the deal isn't done yet.  It still requires some machinations between the Marlins, the county and the city.

Tuesday's developments have the Marlins significantly closer to home plate. However, there remains some unfinished business regarding the stadium as it pertains to the global agreement. The commissioners have agreed to review, item-by-item, all that is attached to the deal.

The stadium is scheduled to be discussed on Thursday.

From my understanding, which could be completely wrong since I'm not well versed in Florida law, is that yesterday the $3 billion  in funding was approved but they still have to decide whether each individual project should be included in the deal.  A new stadium is on the docket for Thursday.

The next step is reaching a binding agreement by the end of the week, which would allow all parties to move forward in hopes of drafting final design plans as early as January.

Assuming the Marlins get more positive news on Thursday, Samson said then a "binding stadium agreement" will be reached.

"That's when we will have a stadium deal," Samson said.

I can't believe I posted a Samson quote on anything -- I feel dirty.  That aside.

Should that be approved, and I think it will, that only leaves for the Marlins, the city and the county to hash out the details.  At the time I am writing this, the Marlins have signed nothing saying they will put $155 million up front.

The other aspect is cost overruns, which, once again from my understanding, the Marlins will cover but have stated they won't cover the ones brought on by delays by the city or county.  This shouldn't be much of problem, but you never know with politicians.

In case you were wondering about who is paying what, here is the breakdown assuming it passes.

County commissioners are scheduled to vote Thursday on a funding plan in which the county would spend $249 million and the city $121 million from mostly tourist tax dollars to pay for the stadium. The Marlins would pay $155 million.

The county would own the land and the stadium.  The city would get the team renamed after them and the Marlins would have a place to play for the next 30 years, as the lease would require.

Naturally, there are some people who aren't too happy about this.

The speed of passage, rare for government and particularly so for a bureaucracy as vast as Miami-Dade, spurred protests from some quarters.

Morningside activist Elvis Cruz called the process ``unethical, deceitful and illegal.''

Before the meeting, a small gathering of critics assembled outside County Hall, led by the Overtown activist group Power U Center for Change. On Monday, car magnate Norman Braman said he would finance a media campaign against the initiative and is researching a legal challenge.

Ramming the legislation through the way it was done is always going to have this effect on some people.  As I said before, it's not the most noble way to it, but if works, I'll take it.

But don't be surprised if everything ends up being delayed while we are waiting on court dates.  I hope it doesn't come to that, but it is in the realm of possibilities.

One last note and it is the one that has me concerned.

The construction timeframe has shortened from 34 months to 29 months, in hopes of the Marlins moving into a new home by April 2011.

"The lease terms, we'd be there at least 30 years, but as far as the time line for construction, we're still working on that," Samson said.

I truly hope that construction won't be rushed unnecessarily.  If everything falls into place and the Marlins do get a stadium, the last thing we need is for the Marlins to be playing in a crappy stadium for 30 years.

The Kansas City Royals built a great venue which they have proudly called home for 34 years.  On the other hand, the Minnesota Twins built a rushed up piece of crap 25 years ago which they have actively been trying to get away from since the mid-nineties.

If everyone is going to invest this kind of money in the project, let's get it right.  And if it isn't ready by opening day in 2011, Big Deal.  The Marlins can open the season in Jupiter and the Hammerheads can play on one of the back fields for a few months.

In the long run, it will be worth it.