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The biggest free agent catch: Marlins

By Kevin Brewer
May 7, 2007

This winter's free agent class could include Andruw Jones, Ichiro and, of course, a certain Gotham City third baseman.
But the biggest fish -- pun intended -- in the Class of 2008 should be the Florida Marlins. Another request for financial help on a new stadium was rebuffed Friday when the state Senate shot down a $60 million subsidy proposal.

Six times this decade the Marlins have drafted proposals to fund a new stadium. Six times the organization has failed to secure the financial support. This most recent proposal had the team, the city of Miami and Miami-Dade county contributing $460 million of the $490 million needed to construct a new field fitted with a retractable roof. The extra $30 million would have come from bonds backed by the aforementioned $60 million in state money.

Now, the Senate also couldn't find money to help expand a low-cost children's health care program. If that is true, then those state legislators are not in the wrong here. Even though Florida's new governor, Charlie Crist, once was a lawyer for minor league baseball and wants to keep the Marlins in Miami, it is about time for them to find a new home.
Whether public funding for new stadiums is a worthy cause or socially irresponsible is up for debate every time a sports franchise goes looking with its hands out. It is clearly not going to work in this situation, but even if it did, it apparently would come at the expense of something more worthy.

Maybe Jeffrey Loria will take a cue from Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux and realize the best way to force people into action is to pack up the moving vans and get the engines humming. Maybe there is an 11th hour savior on the horizon in Miami, but the overwhelming question is ... why?

Not only are there clearly economic issues in the way of a new stadium, but will the franchise really be able to thrive with fancy new digs in that market? Let's face it -- Miami is a terrible sports town. The Marlins, Panthers and Heat have all had serious problems finding fans to fill their buildings.

Sure the Marlins filled Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphin Stadium during their two World Series runs, but more often than not their crowds are Expos-esque. Seriously, if that city can't support a team that has won two World Series in the past 10 years, does it deserve one?

The Marlins likely will be stuck in Miami until their lease runs out in 2010, but it is time for them to leave. The sooner, the better. Other cities should line up for this franchise, which boasts one of the greatest collections of young talent in baseball.
This franchise has one of the truly marketable figures in the sport in Dontrelle Willis and a precocious superstar in Miguel Cabrera (though both could be traded by the time another city welcomes the team home). There also is plenty of depth in the system, so just when it is time for Scott Olsen and Anibal Sanchez to earn millions, there will be guys like Chris Volstad and Sean West waiting.

It is a group of players many cities would embrace and successfully support in ways Miami has not. Think anybody in this town would have rather had the Marlins instead of the Expos?

That's a pretty safe bet.
 

CapeFish

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Washington....a town that lost 2 AL clubs to Minnesota and Texas...now on its third team, the NL Nationals.

They should shut up and call us back when they spend 5 years in the League.
 

djm305

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This article is not surprising. Most people outside of SouthFLA consider this to be the WORST sports town in the nation and it is common for media and sportswriters to use the Marlins as the butt to all jokes dealing with attendance. So no surprise there.
 

anotherrealfan

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This article is not surprising. Most people outside of SouthFLA consider this to be the WORST sports town in the nation and it is common for media and sportswriters to use the Marlins as the butt to all jokes dealing with attendance. So no surprise there.
Truths and half truths in the article. First, as an aside, watch the Nationals actual attendance this summer, especially weeknight games-bleak is the expectation.

The truths is about low attendance for winning 2 world series championships, but if you are going to write an article about a team in another city to bash the fans, maybe you should also include the ownership and fire sale issues and that after one world series title you defend it with a 54 win team, relocation issues, contraction, ownership problems etc. . Otherwise, you are on an agenda to provide readers, who probably don't care anyway about the Marlins or their attendance, partial information, but why?
 

TSwift25

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Fact of the matter is, DC got the stadium issue done because they believe that the benefits of the team outweigh the costs.

They can go ahead and throw stones.
 

anotherrealfan

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Fact of the matter is, DC got the stadium issue done because they believe that the benefits of the team outweigh the costs.

So do I.
 

TSwift25

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Fact of the matter is, DC got the stadium issue done because they believe that the benefits of the team outweigh the costs.

So do I.

You'd be shocked how little fiscal sense it makes to publicly finance a ballpark.
 

DcFishFan

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Washington Times.

Big difference.

agreed.

what an absolute rag.

i wouldn't paper a bird cage with it.
 

Marlins2003

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And of course it doesn't matter that the article is full of errors or that the same people never stop complaining either.

The Zimbalist's of the world have been by now totally discredited. Economic development around new stadium venues is real and tangible and throwing off increased taxes both from real estate as well as sales or consumption.Property values increase in an area and spur more cycles of economic development.

Not unlike what we saw on Miami Beach where the first wave of development left people shaking their heads in disbelief, conventional wisdom suggested only fools paid $100 a foot on nasty Lincoln Road or spent hundreds of thousands renovating a small streamline hotel, only to watch prices on Lincoln Road quadruple and a new mega hotel project undertaken, then square foot prices on Lincoln Road hit $1000 a square foot and people said OMG this is insane, only to see that number treble and hundreds and hundreds of new hotel rooms come on line as chain after national chain settled in on the Beach and room rates went to the moon.

If they're able to site the stadium downtown, it will be the eventual bridge to the final redevelopment of the north side of the Miami River. A decade or so after the venue opens you'll be able to walk from the river to the AAA in a totally redeveloped downtown. In the same way that big box retailing has changed forever the face of commerce, megaprojects like stadiums and concert halls bring with them a life of their own as they bring ten of thousands together night after night in areas once abandoned and vacant as soon as the sun went down.

The economists the trolls and self-styled experts like to quote, history shows are the ones who looked at very small windows of time and made pronouncements about which they really know very little.

They would be the same ones who guaranteed baseball was dead. When DC is built you'll see all crackpots out again, as will happen here, when they see nothing happening for a few years because they're on the outside looking in and they failed to realize once again the $600 million project going in down the street or the $200 million marina took five years of planning and three years of pre-permitting before a shovel of soil was turned, even though work on the projects started two days after the new stadium opened.
 

anotherrealfan

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Fact of the matter is, DC got the stadium issue done because they believe that the benefits of the team outweigh the costs.

So do I.

You'd be shocked how little fiscal sense it makes to publicly finance a ballpark.
I wouldn't be shocked about anything, especially how figures can be spun. It would be like arguing religion. We have gone round and round-the sales tax is not a rebate, the money would be spent elsewhere, people who go to marlins games trade that off instead of going to the movies, thus, it is an exchange and a giveaway and not a rebate.
Then we could argue all the offshoots of a new complex and the jobs created. But, I strongly contend that if you argue the merits of any matter that has wide appeal on the economics alone-you could deteremine that nothing should be built that serves the public. And yes, I believe that a sports franchise does serve the public in many ways beyond the economics. It adds value to the landscape of the community as a whole and over many years is synonomous with community. It becomes as much a part of the fabric of the community as any thing else-and often much more.

To try to put a black and white argument of economics on this issue, or any publicly funded venue, be it a library, a museum, a performing arts center or a stadium is fruitless. It is all about how you feel about where you live and what you want your community to have to enhance your quality of life. If to me, having a baseball team is more important than a new performing arts center, that is it. Yet, I recognize that while I may not go the new arts center often, it is still of value to our community as an example of the choices we have in our life.

I still say, if publicly funding a new stadium makes little sense, and I would assume you derive this from facts from other cities, if you ask those cities and the people there if they are happy and proud of their facility, you would probably have a majority saying yes.
 

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