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Stadium News - Sort of

As Fishcrazy reported in last night's comments, the Marlins took a big step in getting a permanent baseball home.

Sarah Talalay gives the details.

The Marlins scored a huge victory Tuesday when Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen ruled their ballpark serves a “paramount public purpose” – meaning public dollars can be used to help build it.

The team, Miami-Dade County and city of Miami believe the ruling in the case filed by auto dealer Norman Braman targeting the financing for $3 billion in Miami projects, including the ballpark, means they can move ahead with their plans for the $515 million stadium at the site of the former Orange Bowl.

They plan to step up negotiations of definitive construction, financing and other documents so they can bring them to city and county commissioners in the coming weeks. And the team says it will finally be able to share new renderings of the ballpark soon.

While the Marlins aren't completely out of the woods yet, since the county and the city need to approve a few agreements.  Things have definitely taken a turn for the better.

The city shouldn't be a problem, the county will be a bit of wrestling match, but in the end they should agree to it.

One of the interesting things is that we should see the early stadium designs, fairly soon.

Braman, so far, has lost on every legal argument and he even had a judge who was sympathetic to his case.

Interestingly, Cohen's ruling indicated that she understood the ballpark issue is "contentious and emotional," but acknowledged it was the court's role to apply the law, not sentiment.

"While the Court agrees with Plaintiff that the Marlins are getting what amounts to a “sweet deal,” this is, put bluntly, not the business of this Court," Cohen wrote in her 41-page ruling.

In other words the judge was trying to find a reason why it was illegal and couldn't.

Of course, being the absolute piece of uh, concerned citizen he is, he plans to appeal.

Braman, however, plans to continue his legal fight, taking his case to appellate court.

“We’re disappointed in the judge’s ruling, but not that surprised by it,” Braman said. “We’re going to be appealing the judge’s decision, we’re optimistic we’re going to prevail on appeal. This is the first round of a fight, that we expected would last beyond the lower court.”

Braman said he will take the case to appellate court and even as far as the Florida Supreme Court, if necessary.

It is doubtful the ruling will be overturned.

Judge Cohen has to yet to rule on the final element of Braman's suit, which is, whether some of the funding must go before a public vote.  However, the city, county and the Marlins aren't too concerned about the outcome.

Among the items Braman is referring to is the one remaining count in his case on which Cohen has yet to rule: whether a portion of the financing for the $3 billion in city projects must go to a vote of the public.

Cohen said she will not rule until after Sept. 15, as she is waiting for the Florida Supreme Court to rule on similar cases.

But the team, city and county say that ruling is immaterial to the ballpark since the financing for the venue does not rely on property taxes.

Finally the new stadium can move ahead, once the construction, finance, etc. agreements are approved.

The county, city and the Marlins are planning to move forward with the construction process which has been on hold until now.  Unfortunately, thanks to the delay, it is looking doubtful that the Marlins will open the 2011 season in the new stadium.

Whether they can swing a one year deal with Wayne Huizenga or if they need to play in Jupiter, remains to be seen.

While there is still some work to be done, this ruling is welcomed news.