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Stadium News - Sort of

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In case you missed it, and how did you, the Baseball Stadium Agreement passed both commissions.

It took all day and late into the evening, but the Florida Marlins walked away from the Miami-Dade government center Thursday with the approvals that should finally allow the team to break ground on a new ballpark this year.

Miami and Miami-Dade County commissioners approved a binding agreement that serves as the framework for a $515 million, 37,000-seat, retractable-roof ballpark and a $94 million parking garage at the site of the Orange Bowl, as long as definitive financing, management, construction and other agreements can be reached by July 1.

But the approvals, despite more than seven hours of debate by the County Commission, had team, county and city officials declaring victory in their effort to secure baseball in South Florida for generations -- or at least for 35 years, the length of the agreement. The team hopes to break ground in November and open the ballpark in 2011, when the team would be renamed the Miami Marlins.

That is the good news and it is indeed good news.  Now for the other news.  After the vote was taken by the county, I had to step away from it in hopes of gaining some perspective on the situation.

I always thought if the Baseball Stadium Agreement passed both commissions, I would be bouncing off the walls.  That wasn't the case last night after watching the county commission in action.  Some of the commissioners only voted for the stadium after being reassured a number of times that they could still vote it down in July.  I don't know how many times that ask the county attorney what the county's liability would be if they went forward.

It was only after COO of MLB, Bob DuPuy said:

"I just want you to know that if you decide not to make a decision tonight, that will be the death knell for baseball in Miami," DuPuy said. "We are out of time."

Judging by his mannerisms and the frustration in his voice, this was no idle threat.

Later, when the issue of whether city or county police and fire personnel would be used at stadium, a real point of contention.    Someone, Burgess, I think, suggested that they give him 30 days to negotiate with the city.  While some were objecting, DuPuy stepped to the mic again.

"This has to be resolved within 30 days ... so therefore, the inability to resolve this political issue kills baseball in South Florida," Major League Baseball president Bob DuPuy said. "That's the consequence."

And trust me, I believed him.  If DuPuy was bluffing, he ought to be on the World Poker Tour, cause he looked and sounded serious to me.  By that point he was so exasperated, I was getting ready for MLB to just pull the franchise from South Florida.

After that, with some more reassurances that the county commissioners could vote the stadium down in the future, they voted to approve 9-3.

It wasn't a pretty night.

Now, for what's ahead:

But several issues, including the particularly thorny matter of deciding if city or county police and fire departments will be patrolling the new facility, remain unresolved. An agreement on the police-fire staffing front must be struck within 30 days...

It appears the county is willing to go to the mat on this one.  Though I find it hard to believe that the city and the county will kill the stadium deal over this issue.

Also having to be agreed upon in 30 days is the labor peace agreement -- that shouldn't be a problem.

After that it may get a little easier heading into July.

With the approval of both commissions, the Marlins, county and city now must negotiate definitive financing, non-relocation and other agreements that will have to be brought back to the commissions by July.

What this amounts to is that all of the commissioners get their pet projects in either the Management Agreement or the Construction Agreement.  Almost all of their requests wouldn't add much, if anything, to the cost.  So that should easily be accomplished.

Finally, the ultimate ray of hope, after all was said and done there was a re-vote on the Baseball Stadium Agreement and all of the county commissioners voted for approval making it unanimous.  With no one wanting to be on record as opposing the baseball stadium agreement.

Yeah, I think the Marlins are going to get a new home in South Florida.  But we will know for sure when the shovels hit the dirt.

Footnote: In the give credit where credit is due department, believe it or not, or at least during the time I watching, David Samson did an excellent job representing the Marlins interest.  I've never hidden the fact that I think Samson is a jerk, but last night, he was well prepared and somehow found another gear other than jerk.  Who knew he had one.

One final footnote: lawsuits are on the way.