The new stadium, should it happen, and it should, will be bring changes for the Marlins.
Although he doesn't have enough financial projections to offer a number, the middle-of-the-pack '07 payrolls included Houston ($88 million), Atlanta ($87 million), Toronto ($82 million) and Oakland ($79 million).
The Marlins -- who had a $30 million payroll last year and a $23 million projected one for '08 -- will consider raising it slightly in 2009 or 2010, depending on several factors, including: 1) Whether the stadium project goes over budget (the Marlins pay for all over-runs, and if they are substantial, it potentially could affect the future of Hanley Ramirez and others); 2) Attendance in the final years at Dolphin Stadium; and 3) New revenue the team receives before 2011. For example, if the Marlins get some up-front payment for naming rights to the stadium well before the move, they would be receptive to using it immediately on payroll.
The good news is that Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Josh Willingham, Mike Jacobs and Jeremy Hermida won't be eligible for free agency until after 2011. The bad news, for the Marlins, is that they are arbitration-eligible after each of the next three seasons. Ramirez could get as much as $10 million next winter, and substantially more beyond.
Samson wouldn't rule out offering Ramirez a contract that would run a year or two into his free agency years, but it hasn't been discussed. His agent will raise the issue.
Truthfully, I don't expect that the revenue from the next few years at JRS or the possibility of upfront naming rights will be as much of a factor as to whether the payroll will be increased. The major factor will be the amount of cost overruns in building the new stadium. If the proposed ballpark goes seriously over budget, then the increase in payroll could be delayed by several years. If building cost are close to the estimates, not likely, then an increase in payroll could happen in the next couple of years. The Marlins may sign Hanley longer term but until they get an idea where they stand on capital outlays for the stadium, look for them to go year to year.
The park will be a pitchers park, or at least that is the plan.
Some of the newer ballparks were designed to be pitcher's parks but when they were actually put into play, balls started flying out left and right. But the plan is pitcher's park, we will see what it is once the Marlins start playing in it.
As you already know, parking on the lawns in Little Havana is going to be part of the charm.
I hope that sometime in the future they workout some way for the Metrorail to have a stop at the park or at least very close to it.
And finally, we may get the All-Star game along with WBC games.
Now all we need is a park.