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Stadium News - Sort of

The trial continued on Tuesday, with the normal result.

An economist with a history of disputing studies showing Super Bowls generate millions of dollars for their host communities was hired by auto dealer Norman Braman to testify that a ballpark for the Florida Marlins does not "serve a paramount public purpose" requiring millions of public dollars.

Philip Porter, an economics professor at the University of South Florida, told the court Tuesday during Braman's trial targeting the financing for a $515 million Marlins ballpark that stadiums provide little economic benefit to a community beyond temporary construction jobs. Otherwise, the sports are private enterprises that siphon dollars from other entertainment options.

"It has a slim-to-none chance of spurring economic development in the neighborhood," Porter said. 


Marlins and county attorneys objected to Porter's testimony and to photographs he said he took near Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa that were meant to show shabby and run-down conditions. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen refused to admit the photographs.

"He has not done a single thing in his professional life that qualifies him to talk about quality of life," Marlins attorney Sandy Bohrer told Cohen.

Once again the Judge agreed with the Marlins and the County's attorneys.

Of course, Braman, or Porter was comparing apples to oranges.  What is known as Tropicana Field sat vacant for years after it was built.  Raymond James hosts a professional football team which only plays eight home games a year.

I lived in Houston before, what is now known as Minute Maid existed, and the area where it was built was one you really didn't want your car to breakdown in.  However after returning to see the park and its surroundings, it has new hotels,  up scaled residential lofts, restaurants and night clubs.  All of which require some thinking in advance to get into.

Of course, Minute Maid is in a downtown location and not in a, more or less, suburban one.

To argue that the stadium wouldn't revitalize the Little Havana area is to assume a zero sum game.  In other words if you were to spend $7.00 dollars for a ticket to see the Marlins, that is $7.00 you won't spend at, say, the movies.  It also assumes that the 30,000+ people who want to have the experience of watching a baseball game live are the exact 30,000+ people who find attending the movies as a perfect substitute, in a population of millions.

It is very true that building a baseball stadium doesn't necessarily spur economic growth in the part of town it is placed.  But it also doesn't mean that it can't help in the development of the area.

Bob DuPuy thinks that once the stadium is built, fans will show up.

DuPuy said Major League Baseball always has believed baseball will work in South Florida.


``What's good is the television ratings are very good, which means people are watching the games. There are fans down there. They're just not attending the games. We think a roofed facility will induce them to come to the games.''

DuPuy said he could think of only one other similar case in baseball history.

''There's no team that has that kind of [TV to attendance] ratio,'' he said.

``Cleveland was like that back before they got their new ballpark. Cleveland was a good baseball market. They had great TV ratings and they didn't draw flies, and when the new ballpark came they sold out for four years.''

DuPuy even believes the Marlins fans who live in North Broward and Palm Beach will make the drive to Miami because the new ballpark will have a roof.


I'm guessing they won't -- at least for weeknight games anyways.  The key to getting the North Broward and the Palm Beach folks to the game is get the new stadium on the Metro Rail.  Take the driving out of the equation.

Be that as it may, the show that never ends continues today.

The trial resumes at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Witnesses still expected to testify include County Manger George Burgess, Marlins President David Samson and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.

Oh, as Jrsyeagle brought up in the comments, the city is trying to opt out of the lawsuit.

Attorneys for the city of Miami asked Judge Jeri Beth Cohen to dismiss their client as a defendant since voter approval is not required for the city to spend its money on the mega-plan.


"From the city's perspective, judge, we're out of here," attorney Tom Scott said.



Cohen is expected to make a ruling on that issue Wednesday morning.

I can't imagine why the city won't be dismissed.  It is, after all, the county's stadium and the city doesn't play by the same rules the county does.