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Commentary: Marlins, Dolphins could unite


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If Wayne wasn't such a greedy prick...this might be the best solution for everyone in South Florida...

 

Commentary: Marlins, Dolphins could unite

By Charles Elmore

 

Palm Beach Post Columnist

 

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

 

MIAMI GARDENS ? Jeffrey Loria's Marlins enjoyed the most successful opening day in franchise history Tuesday in large part because he was willing to do the unexpected.

 

The owner of the supposedly small-market Marlins agreed to pay Carlos Delgado a team-record $52 million over four years. The most people to watch a regular-season Marlins game, 57,405, responded to watch player-of-the-game Delgado bang four hits in a 9-0 rout of the Braves.

 

Bravo.

 

Loria should respond the same way to a dark cloud on the northwest horizon, from the direction of Tallahassee.

 

A state Senate economist has blasted the idea that a proposed $60 million stadium subsidy benefits Florida taxpayers. The Marlins say state help is critical to build a $420 million stadium beside the Orange Bowl.

 

"I'm very confident the legislature will do the right thing to keep baseball here in South Florida," Loria said.

 

The Marlins have until the session ends May 6 to make their case, but Senate leaders remain unconvinced that taxpayers should subsidize millionaire owners and athletes. If the plan fails, the Marlins face a decision. They could ramp up the talk of moving to Las Vegas or another city, the threat implicit in Loria's answer.

 

They could reach some other deal with city and county leaders in Miami to finance the remaining $30 million in construction bonds, or the Marlins could cover it themselves.

 

Or the Marlins could do the unexpected. They might even talk about becoming a long-term part of Wayne's World ? on the site where they now play for landlord Wayne Huizenga, owner of the Miami Dolphins.

 

Far-fetched? Dolphins Enterprises CEO Joe Bailey said Tuesday about the Marlins: "We've always been working under the assumption they're going to get this done. I guess the best thing to say is if that doesn't happen, that's not the end of the world. We're willing to work with them as best we can."

 

Huizenga himself said last month, "We're not against the Marlins staying on a long-term basis."

 

The roof Huizenga wants to build on Dolphins Stadium, either retractable or permanent, would solve a big problem for the Marlins: rain delays. The Marlins say they are crippled by the lease in Dolphins Stadium, which cuts off a big chunk of money from suites, advertising, parking and concessions.

 

Fair enough. But there's room for bigger thinking here.

 

Huizenga wants to spend hundreds of millions to build a mecca capable of hosting events including Super Bowls on a semi-permanent basis. There's talk of hotels, restaurants, shops and a facility beside the main stadium to accommodate big events and preserve the turf on the main field. Bailey called it "sort of like a World's Fair."

 

A baseball stadium could be built there, too. The city of Miami might not help pay for a project outside its boundaries, but the city's contribution to the current plan, $28 million, is relatively small compared to Miami-Dade County's pledge of $138 million. Another $32 million comes from parking fees. The Marlins are pledging $192 million from future stadium revenue.

 

One advantage: No access problems for fans in Broward and Palm Beach counties, who have at times formed up to two-thirds of the season-ticket base.

 

The team's current lease with Huizenga ends in 2010. Bailey said there has been no active discussion of a Plan B, either to have the Marlins play in a revamped Dolphins Stadium or some adjacent facility.

 

Marlins President David Samson said, "We've had no indication that there's been any change to our lease situation. "

 

The team remains focused on the plan now before state legislators, Samson said.

 

"I'm hearing from the county that things are going well," Samson said, referring to Miami-Dade County officials following state proceedings.

 

As for playing in Dolphins Stadium or next to it, Samson referred the question to Huizenga: "That's a question you should ask him."

 

Some in baseball are wary of banking on Huizenga, who as a former Marlins owner incurred the wrath of fans by selling off talent after winning a World Series. He also has declined to ease lease terms. A representative from the office of the baseball commissioner watched opening day as a guest of the Marlins.

 

"I grew up in South Florida, and I've come back to visit my parents, and all I've got to say is, I don't think Wayne Huizenga is committed to Major League Baseball," said Howard Smith, senior vice president of licensing and marketing for Major League Baseball Properties. "All of a sudden the Dolphins are in turmoil, and Wayne says, 'You know what, maybe we can do something with these guys.' "

 

But if the alternative is leaving for Las Vegas, the Marlins should look at every option. Jeffrey Loria has already shown what a man can accomplish by doing the unexpected.

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Interesting.

 

I think the Marlins are best suited by moving closer to downtown Miami (businessmen getting off work at that hour, reversed traffic trends, southern suburbs), but if the deal is equitable (you hear that, Wayne?!) it's within reason. The city of Miami would lose in this scenario. They were hoping for this to spur commercial development in the area while gaining 81+ events worth of parking fees and sales tax.

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IMO, this scenario would be the best for the fans...imagine a new baseball stadium along side a refurbished Dolphin Stadium along with all of the hotel, restaurant and entertainment facilities close by! truly awesome.

 

If only theses two rich owners could put their differences aside...it could be a win-win for all.

 

Please see the Hicks-Cuban relationship in Dallas as a perfect example on how this could work...

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