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Give Tax Break


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Give Tax Break


South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

Posted January 29 2005


Florida lawmakers need to rethink their unreasonable, and contradictory, reticence and approve a sales tax break for a new Marlins stadium.


Senate President Tom Lee suggests that before the Marlins ask for a $60 million exemption spread over 30 years, former owner H. Wayne Huizenga should give his back. This is a preposterous demand, and one that goes against the state's long-established practice of using sales tax breaks to encourage economic and social development.


The Dolphins' stadium, built by the franchise's original owner, Joe Robbie, without a public handout, is deserving of the tax break. Huizenga was awarded the exemption to pay for renovations required to accommodate a Major League Baseball club, which he brought to South Florida.


If the Marlins leave the facility by 2010, they would depart with just 13 years left on the exemption. Huizenga has announced a series of stadium improvements. Considering its broad public use, the stadium merits the exemption.


The Marlins have committed their share of public relations blunders, such as an ill-advised trip to Las Vegas last year by team officials. But the team has shown a commitment to invest in a competitive squad, as Tuesday's signing of free agent slugger Carlos Delgado shows.


The team and lawmakers need to act and speak with less bravado before recklessness torpedoes the tax exemption, which is a critical piece of the financing package for a $420 million stadium. With limited private and public funding sources, there aren't many Plan B alternatives if the state again says no.


In their tumultuous 12 seasons in South Florida, the Marlins have won two World Series. When they have been at their best, South Floridians have been at their best -- united, positive and harmonious.


Yes, the money spent on the stadium could be used to improve schools and protect the environment. But funding schools and environment-enhancing programs are objectives that must be addressed no matter what. It shouldn't come down to an either-or proposition, especially as long as the state keeps plenty of other sales tax exemptions on the books.


The Marlins' tax exemption, $2 million per year average, is a lot of money, but it's not a huge slice of the state's proposed $61.6 billion budget for next year. And it's not out of character for state and local governments to grant tax incentives for the common good.


It's time for tact and skill so that the interests of South Florida, the Marlins, and ultimately the state, will reap good will.

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Great article. Everyone is starting to side more with the marlins. I'm pretty optimistic that they get the stadium deal done.


Im less and less optimistic by the day. Huizenga's lobbyists are gonna do everything possible to torpedo this now because they know full well that the Marlins getting their state funds means H. Wayne not getting his. Wayne will just argue that the money has already been spent on the facility and threaten to muddle everything in court while Lee will say if we cant make sure its been spent, we cant keep giving it out. Who knows if that means the Marlins get what they need.

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