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Cote sees "silver lining"


DcFishFan
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I hesitate to post this, and am reminded of Ralph Fiennes' comment in Schindler's List when Liam Neeson sprays all the people in the cattle cars with water: "you are cruel, Oscar, giving them hope." But here goes...

 

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sports/13237167.htm

 

Posted on Wed, Nov. 23, 2005

 

IN MY OPINION

 

 

Silver lining in the bad news: Ditching OB site could lead to a better Dade one

 

BY GREG COTE

 

gcote@herald.com

 

 

The announcement that had seemed increasingly inevitable arrived Tuesday draped in the doom and profundity you'd expect.

 

The Marlins' long-stalled deal to build a new stadium near the Orange Bowl had fallen irrevocably through -- and now the franchise would explore leaving South Florida altogether.

 

It sounded like a death knell, like we were destined to be shamed to be the first U.S. metropolis in 33 years to watch its Major League Baseball team say thanks-for-the-memories and screech tires toward a sweeter deal in some other city.

 

That could happen, too. It could. It might.

 

But we'd bet it doesn't.

 

We'd rather bet that Tuesday's news could prove to be the best thing that could happen for the sport's long-term future here.

 

The Orange Bowl site, in an area of downtown Miami seldom featured in Chamber of Commerce ads, was a stadium location that didn't thrill many people. Evidently those people included City of Miami officials, whose support for the project always seemed propped on balsa wood stilts.

 

The Marlins should be thankful to be rid of both the OB site and the waffling, dubious, buffoon support of can't-do Miami city officials.

 

Now, the Marlins -- who profess a strong preference to remain in South Florida -- are forced to finally consider a far more logical, preferable, centrally located site just south of the Dade-Broward line, adjacent to Dolphins Stadium.

 

Can it happen?

 

Can a retractable-dome, baseball-only stadium grow there to rescue the team?

 

It can.

 

The Marlins like the site, and so do Miami-Dade County officials, who have proved to be more forward thinking, resourceful and committed in their support of the team and a new stadium than have their City of Miami counterparts.

 

Obstacles remain, including roughly the same $70 million funding gap that dogged the OB-site plan.

 

But the newest targeted location has a real shot if there is sufficient help from an unlikely source:

 

Wayne Huizenga.

 

Hey, here's your chance, Wayne.

 

You have been a villain to local sports fans ever since you broke up the 1997 champion Marlins you once owned. You were even booed at the stadium retirement party you threw for Dan Marino. Remember?

 

Now is your chance to make amends, to refashion your image from ogre to hero. Now is your chance to help save the Marlins.

 

See, Huizenga owns the land around Dolphins Stadium where a new ballpark would be built. Selling it at a fair price would be a huge start in making this thing happen. Huizenga is like our Donald Trump, a deal-maker. Somehow, I think his full support of the Marlins' new park going up alongside his football stadium would be a huge step in it actually happening.

 

He would come off as magnanimous, even though his motives might be pragmatic. He'd get the Marlins out of his stadium, which would thrill the Dolphins, while maintaining another six-plus months of business for the promenade of hotels, restaurants and retail shops he envisions for that area.

 

THE WAY TO GO

 

It all makes sense. And, crazy to say, a shortfall of around $70 million is not a huge bridge to cross in the business of building new stadiums. It should not be enough to make a team leave a city.

 

Baseball doesn't want relocation. That's why it hasn't happened to a United States team in 33 years. Even MLB could step in with a loan to bridge a funding gap, if Bud Selig loves the potential of the South Florida market as much as he says.

 

Franchises have survived abysmal ownership (see Tampa Bay) and not moved. Franchises have survived spotty attendance and not moved. Franchises have survived perennial losing and not moved.

 

The solution -- almost always -- is a new stadium.

 

A new stadium will make fiscal sense for owner Jeffrey Loria and allow him to increase player payrolls without begging monstrous financial losses. A new stadium (and the larger payrolls that follow) will reenergize a sizable fan base looking for a reason.

 

The correlation is direct. The pending trade of Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston for minor leaguers, and the payroll cutting to follow -- what club President David Samson in corporate-speak Tuesday called ''a significant market correction'' -- would not be happening if ground had been broken on a new park. Period.

 

DON'T BLAME LORIA

 

You cannot (or at least should not) blame Loria in all of this. He was -- is -- willing to put up $212 million of his own money, up front and in annual rent, toward a proposed $385 million cost for a new stadium. He also is willing (and this is not standard procedure) to cover all overrun costs. That's major, especially when you consider the public is paying millions in overrun costs for the Performing Arts Center.

 

Now it's up to Jeffrey Loria, Miami-Dade County, Major League Baseball and Wayne Huizenga to get together and make this happen. Because Tuesday's Marlins announcement felt like honest desperation and a ploy for leverage, all at once.

 

What it didn't feel like was a bluff.

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Good article by Cote.

 

Miami-Dade county manager George Burgess said about as much this morning on Goldberg's show. He's still confident a deal can get done elsewhere, and the site he likes is exactly what Cote's talking about.

 

I never liked the OB site idea that much either (though I'd certanly take it over nothing). If this opens up possibilities elsewhere, hey let's roll with it.

 

I'm not holding my breath for Wayne to help out but who knows...

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Good article by Cote.

 

Miami-Dade county manager George Burgess said about as much this morning on Goldberg's show. He's still confident a deal can get done elsewhere, and the site he likes is exactly what Cote's talking about.

 

I never liked the OB site idea that much either (though I'd certanly take it over nothing). If this opens up possibilities elsewhere, hey let's roll with it.

 

I'm not holding my breath for Wayne to help out but who knows...

 

 

Look, I don't think that Wayne needs to be a "hero" here. It's good business sense. If he wants to build a sports complex that will be catered to by restaurants and bars, he should welcome another "anchor" tenant. His restauarants and bars don't stand a chance if the only events nearby are Dolphins games. That's only 10 dates a year.

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Hurray!

 

Someone from the Miami press finally steps up and supports the Marlins!

 

And puts the heat on City of Miami officials..... :D

 

The Orange Bowl site, in an area of downtown Miami seldom featured in Chamber of Commerce ads, was a stadium location that didn't thrill many people. Evidently those people included City of Miami officials, whose support for the project always seemed propped on balsa wood stilts.

 

The Marlins should be thankful to be rid of both the OB site and the waffling, dubious, buffoon support of can't-do Miami city officials.

 

The Marlins like the site (Dolphin Stadium), and so do Miami-Dade County officials, who have proved to be more forward thinking, resourceful and committed in their support of the team and a new stadium than have their City of Miami counterparts.

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Good article by Cote.

 

Miami-Dade county manager George Burgess said about as much this morning on Goldberg's show. He's still confident a deal can get done elsewhere, and the site he likes is exactly what Cote's talking about.

 

I never liked the OB site idea that much either (though I'd certanly take it over nothing). If this opens up possibilities elsewhere, hey let's roll with it.

 

I'm not holding my breath for Wayne to help out but who knows...

 

 

Look, I don't think that Wayne needs to be a "hero" here. It's good business sense. If he wants to build a sports complex that will be catered to by restaurants and bars, he should welcome another "anchor" tenant. His restauarants and bars don't stand a chance if the only events nearby are Dolphins games. That's only 10 dates a year.

 

No I completely agree. (I removed "hero" right after I posted it)

I've already been mystified as to why he hasn't been more active at trying to get involved with this by now.

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The announcement yesterday should definately get the wheels moving. Listening to sports radio last night, its obvious that the fans (go figure) blame Loria for trying not to get this deal done while others say he has tried the best he could to get fans to come out and get the stadium deal done. I think long term, Wayne knows its in his best interest to do something like this and help get this stadium deal done. Let us not forget that if Wayne could have gotten his Wayne's World idea off the ground years ago, this team wouldn't be in the position that they are in now.

 

 

So what is it going to take? I would imagine a meeting between Wayne and Jeff (if it hasn't happend already) to discuss what can be done. The Marlins are supposedly only 70-100 million away from getting this deal done, so thats not a huge gap to overcome and reason to move the team. Plus, I doubt public officials would want to be remembered as the men that helped this baseball team leave South Florida forever..

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