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Stadium News

A stadium for the Marlins got a little boost yesterday when a couple of bills cleared a Senate committee.

The Florida Senate Commerce Committee unanimously passed two bills Tuesday that would give the Marlins a $60 million tax break - $2 million per year over 30 years - if the city of Miami, Miami-Dade County and the team can nail down a deal to build a $490 million stadium.

The stadium would seat 38,000, be located downtown near the county Government Center, have a retractable roof, and be completely publicly owned, Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess said.

The difference in the two bills has to do with the amount of the penalty the Marlins organization would pay if the team were to move during the thirty year period.

The major difference in the second bill, filed by Sen. Rudy Garcia, R-Hialeah, is that it would charge the Marlins less than Diaz de la Portilla's bill if the Marlins were to leave the state during the 30-year time frame.

Garcia's bill would charge 125 percent of the money the stadium had received, while Diaz de la Portilla's would charge 150 percent.

That really shouldn't be much of a problem, if either passes and if a stadium is built.  I guess the legislators are learning from their past mistakes.  Especially since Huizenga is going to be paid $2 million a year for the next 17 years even though the Marlins won't inhabit the stadium after the 2010 season.

It is the earliest, in a legislative session, that partial state financing for a new stadium has ever moved through committee in the Senate.  Assuming it is passed by the Senate, getting it through the House may prove to be a challenge.

The plan, which House Speaker Marco Rubio called a ''starting point,'' could lower property taxes across the state by more than $12 billion. But it's fraught with unknowns and potential perils.

In addition to making Florida's base sales-tax rate the highest in the nation...


On the eve of announcing his plan, Rubio, a West Miami Republican, released a letter to lawmakers telling them to hold back on spending because, for the first time in years, sales-tax collections are projected to be lower than expected.


That could mean one perennial proposal -- to give a $60 million tax break to help the Florida Marlins build a new ballpark in Miami -- is in trouble...

I won't go into what the tax changes mean to the populous, since this is a baseball blog and not a public finance and taxation blog.  Also, I would feel bad about having your eyes glaze over when you read this, assuming that ship hasn't already sailed.

But anyway, back to the Senate proposal.  It does include that the city and the county must get their ducks in a row before it will be brought to the floor.

Diaz de la Portilla, whose district includes the site under consideration for the stadium, said he would not continue to push the bill unless the city, county and team have an iron-clad agreement laying out who will pay for what.

Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, said the city and county should have their plans in place and have voted on them by April 1.

This, in itself, may be a problem since Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez said the following in a speech yesterday.

On the Marlins stadium -- a perpetually controversial plan whose latest version would use funds designated to eliminate slum and blight -- Alvarez said he does not ``intend to sell the farm to keep the Marlins here.''

While, of course, no one wants him to sell the farm, it does mean the Marlins aren't exactly high up on the priority list.

The bottom line is this: it is a good thing that a couple of bills moved through the Senate Commerce Committee very quickly, it sure beats the heck out of them being bogged down there.  But there is still a lot more to do and some of political players are already positioning themselves as being strapped for cash.

In other words, don't breakout the champagne, just yet.