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State funding toss-up for Marlins

 

BARRY JACKSON

 

bjackson@herald.com

 

 

The state legislative session begins March 8, and the future of the Marlins could ride on the outcome. So what are the chances of the team securing the final funding piece for its proposed retractable-roof stadium next to the Orange Bowl? It appears to be a toss-up, judging from comments made by the two most powerful officials in the Legislature.

 

''I give it a 50-50 chance,'' said state House Speaker Allan Bense, a Republican from Panama City.

 

State Senate president Tom Lee (R-Brandon) said the Marlins have a ''decent'' chance.

 

That Lee isn't automatically dismissing it is encouraging, considering last month he blasted the Marlins for their dalliance with Las Vegas, adding he had no interest in negotiating with ``terrorists.''

 

Marlins president David Samson recently called Lee to emphasize the team wants to stay in South Florida, and Lee said he believes Samson unless he were to find evidence to the contrary. ''I've got [the Vegas issue] behind me,'' Lee said.

 

Could the fact the Marlins are being evicted from Dolphins Stadium after 2010 aid them in their efforts to secure the money? Lee said that will help, but Bense said it's not a factor. Having failed in two previous attempts for state help, the Marlins want a $60 million rebate so they can borrow $30 million. The House and Senate must approve the allocation.

 

One factor working against the Marlins, according to Lee and Bense, is that the Orlando Magic also seeks state funding. NASCAR wants help to build a museum in Daytona Beach.

 

''It doesn't help for everyone to be piling on,'' Bense said. ``I'm afraid if these groups keep piling on, Tampa might be next, then Tallahassee, then Pensacola. . . . In my world, in the Panhandle, no one thinks it's good. My job is to look at the bigger picture.

 

``The Marlins have been here two or three times, and we're more familiar with their proposal than the Magic or NASCAR. If seniority matters, [that] would help. The Marlins are putting a lot of their money into it. The county and city are playing ball -- I love to see that. The Hispanic delegation has really lined up for it. I'm trying to be as open-minded as I can. A new stadium would attract a lot of people. Selling that to the members and the public is a different story.''

 

When Lee recently expressed interest in determining how Wayne Huizenga has used two previous tax rebates awarded to Dolphins Stadium, Huizenga called Lee. ''He wasn't angry,'' Lee said. ``He wanted to make sure I understood the behind-the-scenes dynamics.''

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I think the Marlins should get more of a push than the Magic or Nascar museum. They've been there several times and, unlike the Magic, are putting up tons of money to get a new home. Plus the Magic aren't even in danger of being evicted if their arena doesn't go through (although the NBA has talked about the possibility of the Magic moving if they can't get a new arena). So all of this plus the senators coming together should be a good sign of things to come.

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At this point the Magic are clueless as to their stadium direction. The city mayor Buddy Dyer has been trying to convince them to just renovate the TDWaterhouse center. The Magic are possibley considering it while publicly saying they need a new arena. Btw, the I doubt the Magic would move but if they did, it wouldnt be out of Florida and to a new arena. The Hornets moving to New Orleans has been a complete disaster and never should have happend. Charlotte obviously just got a team to replace the Hornets. St. Louis has problems since the guy who owns the stadium there wants to own a team. Only cities I can think of are Jacksonville and Tampa.

 

And where the hell did Nascar come from? They want a NASCAR museum? Cmon now.

 

 

This thing actually getting to be voted on would be an even in and of itself. At least both leaders are saying they wont block it like they have in the past.

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