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Stadium News - Sort of

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As I'm sure by now you all know that the new Marlins stadium won't open until 2012, at the earliest.

The Florida Marlins said their dream 37,000-seat retractable roof stadium won't be ready until Opening Day 2012, a year later than planned, as team officials blamed a legal challenge for pushing back the deadline.

Marlins president David Samson said the stadium's designers thought the ''risk of cost overruns had become too high'' for a 2011 opening.

''It's realizing we had run out of time,'' Samson said in an interview Tuesday. ``They were not comfortable building a stadium with a retractable roof that quickly.''

As the court trial went on and on, this delay was expected.  The good news is that the stadium won't have to be built as fast as humanly possible.  This is a good thing.  When construction is rushed, corners are cut, which could mean jeopardizing the fan experience at the park.

Stadium construction must begin by May 2009 for a 2012 opening, Samson said, and team officials must secure other approvals before then. Among them: extending the lease at Dolphin Stadium for another year.

The main approvals are the construction agreement and the operations agreement which need to be approved by the city and county.  Extending the lease at JRS isn't as big a deal.  If either the city or county balks, then the stadium is a no go.  Hopefully this won't happen.

Should the Marlins not be able to get a one-year extension on the lease, they can play in Jupiter or maybe somewhere else.  But honestly, I don't think the new owner of JRS will have much of a problem extending the lease for a year and collecting most of the stadium revenue for 81 games.

However, the University of Miami could throw a wrench in the works.

 

But the Marlins may also need the University of Miami's blessing for another year at the stadium that the UM football program now calls home.

When UM announced it was moving from the Orange Bowl to Dolphin Stadium, the university's lease required that the Marlins' infield dirt be gone by 2011.

''It's not ideal to play on dirt,'' said UM athletic director Kirby Hocutt, who plans to discuss the issue with Dolphin Stadium officials.

From my understanding, and I'm not sure this is right, but should UM not agree to play on dirt, it won't kill the deal necessarily.  What it will mean is that the 'Canes will play rent free in JRS for that season.  If my information is correct and the 'Canes balk, then the new owner of JRS has a decision to make.

Now, if all of that isn't enough, and it should be, there is another concern.

Even with approval, the team will still need to secure financing. Samson is optimistic that can happen even with Braman expected to appeal and tight credit markets in a difficult economy.
“We’re confident the markets will improve and the liquidity will return to the marketplace,” Samson said.

Forget about Braman's appeal for the moment, since if he does go through with it and loses, he is setting himself for lawsuits to reclaim lost damages.  Even Cohen warned him about this.  And he will lose.

Instead let's focus on the credit markets.  So let me see if I get this straight, the financial institutions who aren't lending money to anyone despite all the money being pumped into them are all of sudden going to start lending come the end of January?  Okay.  Maybe it will happen, but I wouldn't bet on it.  Then again I only bet on sure things, so who knows.

I could hit the above much harder but it would only distract, so I won't.

In summary: the stadium being pushed back a year was expected and may not end up being a bad thing.  However, there are still hurdles ahead.  There are always hurdles ahead.  But we've made it further along the course than ever before, which is a good thing.