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Stadium is Caravan's focus Monday

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02/07/2005 4:31 PM ET

Stadium is Caravan's focus Monday

Team president Samson says 'it's good for the state'

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com


MIAMI LAKES, Fla. -- Building the Marlins a new stadium would not only secure the long-term stability of the franchise, but it's good business for the state. Marlins president David Samson said Monday that more than the team would benefit if there is a new stadium.


The Marlins are in the midst of their annual caravan across South Florida, making stops this week in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.


Based on offseason acquisitions of slugger Carlos Delgado, pitcher Al Leiter and several veteran relievers, the Marlins are upbeat about their playoff chances in 2005. Samson is working on making it a banner year for the club in regards to the stadium as well.


Speaking to reporters at a luncheon at Shula's 2 hotel and restaurant, Samson said the tax revenue generated from the new facility would exceed the $60 million being sought from the state to complete the $420 million project.


Samson added that if the retractable-roof stadium is built next to the Orange Bowl in Miami, it would be a host for the All-Star Game.


"One World Series run, in the entire 38-year run, makes up for any possible subsidy we'd be getting," Samson said. "And we will have an All-Star Game in Miami. I don't know when, but it will be soon [after 2010] ... in the new facility."


The 38 years Samson is speaking of is the length of the lease for the building. The Marlins last week reached an agreement in principle with the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County for the local portion of the stadium deal.


City and county commissioners must approve the proposal by March 1. Samson is extremely optimistic that will happen, and he is equally upbeat about getting state help when the Florida Legislature convenes in March.


From the state, the team is seeking a tax rebate of $2 million a year for 30 years. That is viewed as the final piece to completing a project that would give the Marlins a new home no later than the start of the 2008 season. The Marlins are in need of their own facility to survive in South Florida.


While they've played at Dolphins Stadium (formerly Pro Player Stadium) since their inaugural 1993 season, the Marlins will not be permitted to continue playing there after the 2010 season, when its current agreement expires. H. Wayne Huizenga, who owns Dolphins Stadium, told the team in December that they must find a new home by then.


Samson says the agreement that is being negotiated with Miami officials would keep the club in their proposed stadium for the 38 years of the lease.


"There is no chance the team can relocate once it's in the new stadium, no matter who owns it," he said. "The team can never leave."


From a business standpoint for all of Florida, Samson says the math is on the side of building the 38,000-seat baseball-only stadium.


"It's simple math," Samson said. "I guess there are [a few] ways you try to convince people to do anything: There are the facts, and then there's the emotion. In our opinion, we have it both ways. The fact is, there is more money generated than $2 million out of this facility. The fact is, without the facility, all of that extra revenue disappears away from Florida [if the team relocates out of state]. The emotion is what is generated when Al Leiter is wearing a Marlins jacket during the Super Bowl where 90 million people are watching."


The Marlins are putting forth $194 million toward the stadium, the fourth largest contribution by a team in baseball history.


Samson says by the April 5 season opener against the Braves, the Marlins will know if their stadium deal has passed the city and county commissions. But since the state Legislature runs through April, it may be unclear if the team has secured the final $60 million.


"We don't plan to fail," Samson said. "We feel great. Let's go to the facts. The facts are: No Marlins team has asked for less in Tallahassee than what we're asking. We're asking for a sales tax rebate. If the stadium is not there, there is no sales tax. So this is not money that can go anywhere else, or be generated anyway else.


"In theory, we've got a local deal done. Never before [has that happened]. There is a site that they are rendering. There is a design. On top of that, there is a team that has no place to play. This is not the Marlins saying, 'We're OK where we are, but we'd like better.' "


Fans interested in meeting Marlins personnel and players are invited to visit them at the following stops for the rest of the caravan.

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