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Marlins stadium in Pompano Beach?


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Has anyone heard about this?




Pompano Beach, Broward County and Florida Marlins officials have been in discussions for several months about possibly financing a baseball stadium at Pompano Park Harness Track, city officials said Tuesday.


The talks have not yet yielded a completed deal, but Pompano Beach Mayor John Rayson and Broward County Mayor Ben Graber said they are excited about the possibility of bringing the Marlins to Broward -- a prospect that has seemed unlikely for years as county commissioners have been unenthusiastic about putting tax dollars toward another sports venue. The county commission raised the county hotel bed tax 2 percent in 1996 to help pay for BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, home of the Florida Panthers hockey team.


Both mayors called the discussions "complex" and would not disclose any of the financing details.


"There are possibilities," said Rayson, who has toured the track with representatives of the Marlins and the track's owner, Isle of Capri. He said one possibility is relocating a set of older stables at the track to make way for a stadium.


"I'm hopeful we can make progress," Rayson said. "I'd love to keep the Marlins in South Florida. I think it's fantastic if they are able to get a stadium built."


Graber, who would not discuss the location of the stadium, said he hoped to be able to announce a deal before he leaves office Nov. 7.


"We are very close to perhaps putting an offer together that may be presented to the county commission. We're still about two weeks away from finalizing it," Graber said. "It's a complex deal that doesn't depend on one entity greatly. It's a fair deal."


The Marlins declined to comment Tuesday.


The team is in discussions with Miami-Dade County and the city of Hialeah about financing a ballpark in western Hialeah. Major League Baseball has contracts to purchase land south of Miami Arena and has been in discussions with city of Miami and business leaders about locating a stadium in downtown Miami. No deal has been reached in either location.


It's not certain a deal can be reached in Broward, either. Pompano Park is financing and building a $140 million, two-story building to house 1,500 slot machines, restaurants and bars and is in the midst of a $10 million grandstand renovation.


Steven Wolf, the track's senior director of racing operations, said he was unaware of any talks with the Marlins and was not sure where a stadium might be located on the track's 223 acres.


Pompano Beach Vice Mayor George Brummer, whose district includes the track, also isn't sure and doesn't think the public would support the project, which he says would bring more traffic congestion along Atlantic Boulevard and Powerline Road. "I don't think it's practical," Brummer said.


Major League Baseball President Bob DuPuy said he has not been presented with any proposals beyond the Hialeah and Miami plans and that any plan near a gambling venue or that might use gambling revenue for financing would need to be "closely reviewed."


Grabersaid he called the Marlins a couple of years ago when the team was in talks to build next to the Orange Bowl in Miami and offered to help if that deal fell through. No further discussion took place until Graber said he received a call from Rayson in May indicating the Marlins might have interest in Pompano Beach.

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