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Stadium News - Sort of

The Braman lawsuit has entered the Twilight Zone.

{Note: I'm probably going to use more of Sarah Talalay's writings than permissible by the Fair Use Act, but I hope she will forgive me.)

So let's get started.

Bring the popcorn! Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen is hosting a movie night. Of sorts.

In a move that even she called “unorthodox” Monday, Cohen will show the videos -- in the courtroom -- of the Florida Supreme Court hearing three cases related to one of the main arguments in auto dealer Norman Braman’s case against the Marlins, Miami and Miami-Dade County. Braman argues the public should vote on the financing for $3 billion worth of Miami projects, including a $515 million Marlins ballpark.

Cohen is “torn” because she said she believes the state Supreme Court’s ruling last September in Gregory Strand v. Escambia County, which challenged the county using property tax dollars to pay off bonds without a public vote, does apply in the Braman case. However, the court is re-hearing the case so the decision is not final.

So basically, Judge Cohen is going to guess at the outcome of the re-hearing in the Florida Supreme Court to make her ruling accordingly.


Meanwhile, much of Monday was spent listening to the testimony of county witness Tony Villamil, president of Washington Economics Group, who had studied the potential sites for a Marlins ballpark in 2001, when John Henry owned the team. Villamil, who testified for more than six hours, studied Bicentennial Park, a site on the north side of the Miami River and a spot near Miami Arena.

Villamil testified about the amenity a ballpark provides for the community and its ability to spur economic development. He also said he believed if a new ballpark isn’t built, the Marlins will move from South Florida.



“We know without a stadium we lose the Marlins,” Villamil said. “We know that.”

Even Cohen was not convinced. “We don’t know that,” she said. “…Major League Baseball controls that and it hasn’t been determined yet. It’s too early.”


May I suggest to Judge Cohen while she is having her movie festival she shows the tape of Bob DuPuy, MLB President and Chief Operating Officer, saying the county commissioners board meeting that this is it -- the last chance.  If the Marlins can't secure a stadium in South Florida now, MLB will pull the team.

I saw it live and given Mr. DuPuy's demeanor, it was no idle threat.

Cohen and Martinez questioned how Villami could know what to expect, particularly if he hadn’t studied the most recent ballpark plan and had no idea if the Marlins will draw better in a new bllpark.

“How can they know their attendance is going to go up?” Cohen said. “How do we know that?”

Oh, I don't know, but putting the stadium in one of the population centers so people can attend weeknight games should probably help, as opposed to where it is now where almost no one can attend.


Villamil said officials need to believe the Marlins – an idea that didn’t sit well with Cohen. She reminded the court that large companies, such as Bear Stearns, had suffered based on assumptions.

“I don’t mean to cross examine you,” Cohen said, “but I have a big decision to make.” 

It's always nice when the judge is presenting the plaintiff's case for them.

Using Bear Stearns is probably one of the worst the analogies she could come up with.  Bear Stearns was heavily invested in sub-prime repackage instruments that had no value whatsoever. They put it on the books at an inflated price hoping to find a bigger sucker to take off their hands before it was discovered.

That has nothing to do with the Marlins or MLB.  Even if the Marlins attendance doesn't increase, I think it will but let's say it won't, the Marlins will make more money since most of the stadium revenues won't be going to Wayne Huizenga and instead to the Marlins and to Miami-Dade in the form of rent.

Really judge, you need to follow along.