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Stadium News

The local politicians unveiled their plan for helping finance a stadium for the club.

Miami-Dade County and city of Miami officials unveiled on Tuesday the framework of a financing plan for a $490 million downtown Miami ballpark for the Florida Marlins and said they hope to work out the details by the end of April.

The plan calls for a retractable-roof ballpark with 37,000 seats and 60 suites to be built on nine acres of county- and city-owned land just north of the county government center north of Northwest Second Street, east of Interstate 95 and just west of the Metrorail, a few blocks southwest of Miami Arena.

According to memos issued by Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess and Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez, the financing calls for the Marlins to contribute $207 million -- $45 million up front and the rest in future rent payments to the county, which will issue the bonds. The Marlins would also be responsible for cost overruns.

The county would pitch in $145 million in county hotel bed and sports facilities taxes; the city would provide $108 million in Tourist Development Taxes and hotel bed taxes freed up when Miami Arena was sold in 2004.

For the remainder, the county will issue bonds against a $60 million state sales tax rebate, which will generate about $30 million.

First, the down side: the deal once again relies on state funding and while the present administration may be more in favor of providing it - let's face it, the team's track record in Tallahassee has been pretty abysmal up to this point.  Also, the county and the city haven't passed anything that would provide the proposed funding.  And not to mention this:

There are a few other major obstacles that could stand in the way of a stadium deal being completed: Moving a child daycare facility on the north side of Government Center, and most importantly, finding an alternative site for the long-planned Children's Courthouse.

The courthouse has been a focal point of county plans for a few years, and last year County Manager George Burgess said if a reasonable plan could not be worked out involving the courthouse, he would not go along with any Marlins deal.

The good news is that the local politicians are getting their ducks in a row and that is a necessary first-step for state funding to be approved.  The quicker the better.

The County Commission is scheduled to discuss the plan at its meeting on Tuesday; the City Commission might also discuss it on March 8.

Is a downtown stadium, or a stadium anywhere in South Florida for that matter, in the Marlins future?  I have no idea.  I'm optimistic but I've been optimistic before and was gravely disappointed.  So, we shall see.

But the above is the way the locals see/want it to play out.