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Baseball: Florida legislators move a step closer to giving Marlins $60 million subsidy

 

Web Posted: 05/04/2006 12:03 AM CDT

Tom Orsborn

Express-News Staff Writer

 

While Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff hosted a dinner for Florida Marlins officials at one of the area's most romantic restaurants, Florida lawmakers took action late Wednesday that might finish for good the team's flirtation with San Antonio.

 

By a voice vote, the Florida Senate approved an amendment that sets up a floor vote that could certify the team as the state's ninth professional sports franchise eligible for a $60 million subsidy over a 30-year period. The floor vote could come as soon as today.

 

If the bill passes both chambers and is signed by Gov. Jeb Bush, the Marlins would be closer to having the funding to build a ballpark in the Miami suburb of Hialeah, near the team's current home at Dolphins Stadium.

 

"This was a surprise but a very pleasant one," Marlins president David Samson told the Miami Herald. "It is further than (Miami-Dade County) has ever gotten" in terms of state money.

 

But it's unclear if the measure can survive a floor vote. Tom Lee, the Senate's president and an opponent of sports franchises receiving state assistance, predicted it would fail.

 

"It's just part of the process," Wolff said of the news from Tallahassee, Fla. "We'll just see what happens. (The Marlins) have been through this a million times."

 

While Samson celebrated the team's legislative victory, Wolff entertained Marlins officials at the Grey Moss Inn in Helotes. The officials ? Claude Delorme, the vice president for stadium development; Michel Bussiere, the senior vice president/chief financial officer; and Derek Jackson, the general counsel ? studied four possible stadium sites in northeast Bexar County after arriving Wednesday morning.

 

Wolff said the executives, who kept a date that was scheduled last month, were intrigued by the prospects of building a ballpark at the abandoned Longhorn Quarry.

 

"They are pretty interested," Wolff said.

 

The Marlins face a May 15 deadline set by Wolff to say whether they plan to begin negotiations with the county to relocate to San Antonio. Last week, Wolff all but declared dead his quest to lure the team.

 

On Wednesday, he joked about the possibility of the Marlins leaving Dolphins Stadium for Hialeah.

 

"I don't think I want to ask them, but would you rather be in a landfill in Hialeah or would you rather be here?" Wolff said.

 

The officials also visited Joe Straus' 140-acre site adjacent to Retama Park and Verizon Amphitheater and drove by two other sites, one in Live Oak and one near Rolling Oaks Mall.

 

Before the officials leave today, Wolff is scheduled to take them to Mi Tierra Restaurant & Bakery. After breakfast, a tour of Wolff Stadium, home of the city's minor-league baseball franchise, is planned.

 

Wolff asked the Marlins in March to consider a proposal that would call for voters to extend tourism taxes to help finance a $310 million ballpark. The plan could raise as much as $200 million, Wolff says.

 

The Marlins also are considering a plan proposed by officials from Hialeah and Miami-Dade County to tax businesses in a proposed industrial park in Hialeah to help bridge a $100million stadium-funding gap. That number could be trimmed considerably if the Marlins become eligible for the state assistance.

 

The Marlins provision, engineered by three Miami-area Republican senators, was tacked onto a bill that certifies the Orlando Magic for the eighth team to receive the subsidy.

 

Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina applauded the decision.

 

"We are all working for one goal and that is to keep the Marlins here in South Florida and a new home in Hialeah," Robaina said.

 

In addition to touring proposed stadium sites, Marlins executives also met with Tom Sineni, a principal of United Commercial Realty, and Mayor Phil Hardberger.

 

The Marlins' contingent also met with developers Gene Powell and Laddie Denton of project management company Bitterblue Inc., which developed Alamo Quarry Market and unsuccessfully lobbied the city and the North East Independent School District in 1998 to forgo tax revenue from property at Longhorn Quarry so an arena could be built for the Spurs.

 

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

torsborn@express-news.net

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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:lol :lol :lol

 

Sore loser!

 

BTW, Ebbets Field was also built on a landfill. :thumbup

 

 

I'm not sure how that's a shot. The proposed site is/was a landfill, isn't it? Or at least very polluted land. Also note that he said "I don't think I want to ask them". Aka he knows the team would probably prefer to play in an active landfill (not that the site is, this is not a dig, this is a hypothetical) in Florida than come to SA. He's just trying to get a little more optimism back into the SA populace.

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