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Every week or so Sara Talalay's blog in the Sun Sentinel has very good updates on the Marlins Stadium saga.

This is the latest.

 

 

 

January 24, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 788,936

 

> Posted by Sarah Talalay at 11:56 PM

It isn't yet clear what auto dealer Norman Braman's lawsuit challenging the wide-ranging plan to fund $3 billion in downtown Miami projects means for the still being negotiated plan for a $525 million Marlins ballpark at the site of the Orange Bowl.

 

Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami, the Marlins and Major League Baseball intend to keep negotiating a Baseball Stadium Agreement.

 

"I have no reason to believe the deal is in trouble," MLB President Bob DuPuy said. "Stadium deals often engender opposition. I don?t view this as a reason to either delay or be concerned."

 

In fact, negotiators might be more concerned an agreement still has yet to be reached.

 

Nevertheless, some believe the suit could spell trouble if Braman prevails in court and a major source of ballpark funding is no longer available. At the very least being tied up in court could make it difficult for the Marlins to meet their April 2011 deadline for opening a ballpark. The team's lease at Dolphin Stadium expires after the 2010 season.

 

"If I were a Marlins fan, I would be very worried. This is going to push back this stadium, this is going to push back this deal," said Bob Jarvis, a sports and constitutional law professor at Nova Southeastern University.

 

Braman's suit claims the county's decision to move $50 million in general obligation bond funding approved by voters in 2004 to renovate the Orange Bowl to the ballpark project is unconstitutional. It also says changing the source of funding to repay the bonds on the performing arts center to free up money for the ballpark breaches the contract with bondholders, which include Braman. And that County Manager George Burgess negotiating the overall downtown plan -- and another for the stadium -- on behalf of the county commission in private is a violation of the state's public records law.

 

The suit stems from the city and county agreeing last month to the plan, which would extend the life and expand the boundaries of Miami's Redevelopment Agencies to generate millions for the downtown projects, including a port tunnel. The agreement would use CRA dollars to pay down the arts center debt, thereby freeing up hotel bed tax dollars -- which have been paying the debt -- for the stadium.

 

Braman says he is concerned taxpayers have been cut out of the process of deciding whether public dollars should be spent on a private enterprise like the Marlins. "The real issue is the taxpayers and voters that live in this county, I feel should have the right to say yes or no," he said.

 

A former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Braman has waged successful public battles in Miami before. In 1999, he helped defeat a one penny sales tax measure for county transit projects. In 1982, he led the effort to defeat a Miami sales tax measure to renovate the Orange Bowl for the Dolphins.

 

"I think that while a ballpark would be nice, while there may be some economic benefits for some from the tunnel, these should be lower priority items and we shouldn't see any questionable switching of designated funds for this project," Jack McCabe, a Deerfield Beach real estate analyst and consultant, said, cautioning that he is not a lawyer. "I would think there probably are a number of other business leaders questioning these moves."

 

But Jack Winston, a partner at Miami real estate and financial consulting firm Goodkin Consulting, said he thinks the city-county agreement is "an ingenious plan" to use CRA dollars which have grown with condo development in Miami, to fund a variety of projects.

 

Winston said he doesn't think changing the source of repayment of the arts center bonds is a problem, since the county is guaranteeing they will be paid. And he's not sure moving the general obligation bond funds is an issue either, since the money is still going to a stadium at the same site, even if it isn't the Orange Bowl.

 

"One's football and one's baseball. What's the difference?" Winston asked. "If it's recreation-oriented bonds, it's for the recreation and entertainment of the public. I don't think that makes a difference. I'm not an attorney, but I think that's going to be an issue that comes up in court."

 

Jarvis, however, said he thinks the bond arguments are significant, but the public records law arguments might be even more harmful to the Marlins deal. "If the court accepts that, everything they've negotiated goes out the window," Jarvis said. "Even if they do everything again, but this time in public, that would set them back months and months. Every time you get these setbacks, the cost of the building goes up."

 

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (7), Marlins Stadium Updates (7)

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Every week or so Sara Talalay's blog in the Sun Sentinel has very good updates on the Marlins Stadium saga.

This is the latest.

 

 

 

January 24, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 788,936

 

> Posted by Sarah Talalay at 11:56 PM

It isn't yet clear what auto dealer Norman Braman's lawsuit challenging the wide-ranging plan to fund $3 billion in downtown Miami projects means for the still being negotiated plan for a $525 million Marlins ballpark at the site of the Orange Bowl.

 

Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami, the Marlins and Major League Baseball intend to keep negotiating a Baseball Stadium Agreement.

 

"I have no reason to believe the deal is in trouble," MLB President Bob DuPuy said. "Stadium deals often engender opposition. I don?t view this as a reason to either delay or be concerned."

 

In fact, negotiators might be more concerned an agreement still has yet to be reached.

 

Nevertheless, some believe the suit could spell trouble if Braman prevails in court and a major source of ballpark funding is no longer available. At the very least being tied up in court could make it difficult for the Marlins to meet their April 2011 deadline for opening a ballpark. The team's lease at Dolphin Stadium expires after the 2010 season.

 

"If I were a Marlins fan, I would be very worried. This is going to push back this stadium, this is going to push back this deal," said Bob Jarvis, a sports and constitutional law professor at Nova Southeastern University.

 

Braman's suit claims the county's decision to move $50 million in general obligation bond funding approved by voters in 2004 to renovate the Orange Bowl to the ballpark project is unconstitutional. It also says changing the source of funding to repay the bonds on the performing arts center to free up money for the ballpark breaches the contract with bondholders, which include Braman. And that County Manager George Burgess negotiating the overall downtown plan -- and another for the stadium -- on behalf of the county commission in private is a violation of the state's public records law.

 

The suit stems from the city and county agreeing last month to the plan, which would extend the life and expand the boundaries of Miami's Redevelopment Agencies to generate millions for the downtown projects, including a port tunnel. The agreement would use CRA dollars to pay down the arts center debt, thereby freeing up hotel bed tax dollars -- which have been paying the debt -- for the stadium.

 

Braman says he is concerned taxpayers have been cut out of the process of deciding whether public dollars should be spent on a private enterprise like the Marlins. "The real issue is the taxpayers and voters that live in this county, I feel should have the right to say yes or no," he said.

 

A former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Braman has waged successful public battles in Miami before. In 1999, he helped defeat a one penny sales tax measure for county transit projects. In 1982, he led the effort to defeat a Miami sales tax measure to renovate the Orange Bowl for the Dolphins.

 

"I think that while a ballpark would be nice, while there may be some economic benefits for some from the tunnel, these should be lower priority items and we shouldn't see any questionable switching of designated funds for this project," Jack McCabe, a Deerfield Beach real estate analyst and consultant, said, cautioning that he is not a lawyer. "I would think there probably are a number of other business leaders questioning these moves."

 

But Jack Winston, a partner at Miami real estate and financial consulting firm Goodkin Consulting, said he thinks the city-county agreement is "an ingenious plan" to use CRA dollars which have grown with condo development in Miami, to fund a variety of projects.

 

Winston said he doesn't think changing the source of repayment of the arts center bonds is a problem, since the county is guaranteeing they will be paid. And he's not sure moving the general obligation bond funds is an issue either, since the money is still going to a stadium at the same site, even if it isn't the Orange Bowl.

 

"One's football and one's baseball. What's the difference?" Winston asked. "If it's recreation-oriented bonds, it's for the recreation and entertainment of the public. I don't think that makes a difference. I'm not an attorney, but I think that's going to be an issue that comes up in court."

 

Jarvis, however, said he thinks the bond arguments are significant, but the public records law arguments might be even more harmful to the Marlins deal. "If the court accepts that, everything they've negotiated goes out the window," Jarvis said. "Even if they do everything again, but this time in public, that would set them back months and months. Every time you get these setbacks, the cost of the building goes up."

 

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (7), Marlins Stadium Updates (7)

 

I can see both sides to this, but I think it is a good arguing point from the marlins side of thing.

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I find it hillarious that Braman thinks its ok that bonds can be used for the Performing Arts center but not for the stadium. Of course, the main benefit of the stadium is that it will make money due to the fact that it has a solid main tennant with 81 homes games per year and the Performing arts center doesn't exactly have a main tennant nor are any of its performances guarunteed for the next 30 years. Maybe if the Arts center didn't take twice as long as they thought to build and come in a nearly triple the budget then maybe they'd have no problem building a stadium.

 

The big difference here is the Arts Center is entertainment for the rich whereas the baseball stadium is entertainment for common folk. Further proof of the priorities of South Florida politics.

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It looks like the deal won't be ready for a vote on Feb. 5th meeting. This is the second source ( Barry Jackson was the other) that mentions a possible mid February date. We can only hope!

The latest Talalay's Blog entry is bellow:

 

 

 

 

 

Marlins Stadium Update No. 6,590

 

> Posted by Sarah Talalay at 6:54 PM

The public line is the sides are still negotiating a financing plan for a $525 million ballpark for the Marlins at the site of the Orange Bowl, but it won’t be ready in time for Tuesday’s Miami-Dade County Commission meeting, as some had hoped.

 

A few sticking points remain, including the issue of who will pay for the parking garage and the annual maintenance of the venue. Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said he thinks the issues can all be resolved shortly – assuming everyone’s schedule can be freed up – and he’s hoping there will be a vote in the first half of this month. With this project, it’s impossible to predict anymore.

 

Diaz dismisses those who believe he's behind any delays and says the city is willing to pay for the parking garage – as initially proposed – but is balking at paying for maintenance of a venue that will be owned by the county.

 

“We don’t have any money and we don’t own the stadium,� Diaz said. “How in the world do we contribute to maintain something we don’t own?�

 

He also insists he is not holding up the project to wait for Major League Soccer to grant Miami a soccer team, which could be years off, if at all. He said a 25,000-seat soccer stadium next to a ballpark would generate more revenue to help pay for the parking garage, but it isn’t a requirement.

 

“Listen, the baseball deal is moving forward. It has nothing to do with the soccer deal,� Diaz said. “I’ve fought long and hard to get a baseball deal done. I think we can get a soccer deal done. One is not mutually exclusive of the other.�

 

Diaz says talks will continue despite auto dealer Norman Braman’s lawsuit, which seeks to derail the $3 billion downtown Miami overhaul and plans for the ballpark. The former Philadelphia Eagles owner is concerned voters have been cut out of the process and their 2004 vote to put $50 million in general obligation bond funding toward renovation of the Orange Bowl has been dismissed in favor of putting those dollars toward a ballpark. His suit also claims a breach of contract for performing arts center bondholders, including himself, if the bond repayment is switched to Community Redevelopment Agency dollars to free up hotel bed tax dollars for the ballpark.

 

Diaz doesn’t see why voters need to vote.

 

“The public has never voted on an appropriation of convention [hotel bed tax] dollars or how the CRA dollars have been spent,� Diaz said.

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Posted Feb.4,2008 http://blogs.trb.com/sports/custom/business/blog/

 

Marlins Stadium Update No. 20,408

 

> Posted by Sarah Talalay at 7:02 PM

There won?t be a vote of the Miami-Dade County Commission Tuesday on a financing plan for a $525 million ballpark for the Marlins, but Marlins President David Samson says the sides are still meeting.

 

?There?s been great cooperation between the city, county and the team and Major League Baseball acting as interested third party mediator,? Samson said Monday. ?The problem is we?re trying to negotiate a deal that cannot exist in a vacuum. There?s a lot of other issues to talk about and until everything can be worked out together, there?s no announcement on a completed deal. It?s not as easy as negotiating a contract with a player or an employee.?

 

Among the outstanding issues are who will pay for a parking garage and maintenance of the venue. But Samson remains optimistic: ?This community has never been closer to having a done deal.?

 

The longer the delay, however, the more difficult it will be to meet the Marlins deadline of opening a stadium by April 2011. The team has a lease at Dolphin Stadium through the 2010 season.

 

He would not discuss auto dealer Norman Braman?s lawsuit specifically, but said the tourist dollars that would be used for the stadium cannot be used for general fund projects that aid the poor, kids or elderly. Braman is concerned the public has been cut out of the process and wants the overall plan to transform downtown Miami and help fund a ballpark to be considered by the voters.

 

?We said from day one in 2002, we would not build a stadium using dollars that could be used to help other issues in this community,? Samson said. ?This money cannot be used for anything other than to help build professional sports stadiums or to pay for other buildings like the performing arts center.?

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Posted Feb.4,2008 http://blogs.trb.com/sports/custom/business/blog/

 

Marlins Stadium Update No. 20,408

 

> Posted by Sarah Talalay at 7:02 PM

There won?t be a vote of the Miami-Dade County Commission Tuesday on a financing plan for a $525 million ballpark for the Marlins, but Marlins President David Samson says the sides are still meeting.

 

?There?s been great cooperation between the city, county and the team and Major League Baseball acting as interested third party mediator,? Samson said Monday. ?The problem is we?re trying to negotiate a deal that cannot exist in a vacuum. There?s a lot of other issues to talk about and until everything can be worked out together, there?s no announcement on a completed deal. It?s not as easy as negotiating a contract with a player or an employee.?

 

Among the outstanding issues are who will pay for a parking garage and maintenance of the venue. But Samson remains optimistic: ?This community has never been closer to having a done deal.?

 

The longer the delay, however, the more difficult it will be to meet the Marlins deadline of opening a stadium by April 2011. The team has a lease at Dolphin Stadium through the 2010 season.

 

He would not discuss auto dealer Norman Braman?s lawsuit specifically, but said the tourist dollars that would be used for the stadium cannot be used for general fund projects that aid the poor, kids or elderly. Braman is concerned the public has been cut out of the process and wants the overall plan to transform downtown Miami and help fund a ballpark to be considered by the voters.

 

?We said from day one in 2002, we would not build a stadium using dollars that could be used to help other issues in this community,? Samson said. ?This money cannot be used for anything other than to help build professional sports stadiums or to pay for other buildings like the performing arts center.?

 

i agree and hope that is 100% true. :thumbup

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  • 2 weeks later...

As always Sarah Talalay offers the best summary of what's going on with the stadium deal.

 

 

Marlins Stadium Update No. 515 million http://blogs.trb.com/sports/custom/busines...o_515.html#more

 

> Posted by Sarah Talalay at 12:37 PM

I have been asked repeatedly if the new agreement forged by the Marlins, Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami, and Major League Baseball for a ballpark at the site of the Orange Bowl spells the end of the team?s years-long quest for a home of its own.

 

The simple answer is: I don?t know. As many of you know, I have followed this saga for eight and a half years. I have read numerous Memorandums of Understanding, been at press conferences with smiling officials who proclaimed the day had finally come to build a stadium. I've followed the goings-on in Tallahassee six times in eight years.

 

So for me to believe that the $515 million, 37,000-seat retractable roof ballpark will finally be built, I will need to see the shovel put in the ground -- something team officials hope will happen by year?s end.

 

That said, here?s why this agreement is different from all previous proposals: On paper the ballpark is fully funded without a gap.

 

It is a binding 35-year agreement that includes penalties should any side breach its responsibility or terminate the deal. (It?s a complex formula, but it ensures that all sides will essentially be out the same amount of money if the deal fails). It lays out specific time frames for every element of the deal -- from environmental reviews of the Orange Bowl site to definitive financing documents.

 

City and county commissioners are now being briefed on the deal. Historically, the commissions have supported the ballpark project ? although rarely unanimously ? and there should be interesting debate at Thursday?s 9 a.m. city meeting and 1 p.m. county meeting.

 

This is a significant amount of public money, but officials will take pains to stress that the $297 million of county dollars and $13 million of city dollars are derived from tourist taxes that can only be used for convention centers, sports venues and related projects -- not schools, roads or social services.

 

The additional $50 million comes from a general obligation bond that county voters approved in 2004 to renovate the Orange Bowl. With the OB coming down, the county has moved those dollars to the ballpark project.

 

County lawyers believe they have followed proper procedure to move the money (they had a citizens advisory panel review it and held a public hearing). But a lawsuit by luxury auto dealer Norman Braman challenges the move, among other issues, saying it violates the state constitution.

 

(Braman is also challenging the city and county?s decision to expand Miami?s Community Redevelopment Agencies to generate millions of property tax dollars to pay for $3 billion worth of city projects. Some CRA dollars are to be used to pay down debt on the performing arts center, freeing up millions in hotel-bed tax dollars for other projects. Braman?s lawsuit says changing the form of the bond repayment breaches the contract with bondholders, of which he is one.)

 

The city will pay $10 million for demolition of the Orange Bowl and preparation of the site. This figure is not included in the $515 million ballpark project cost because the city will have to do the work regardless of whether a stadium is built there. The city will oversee the building of a $94 million 6,000-space parking garage, but it will get help from the team, which will pay for most of the parking spaces annually and then re-sell them.

 

The rest of the money is to come from the Marlins -- $155 million the team is mostly privately financing, but $35 million of that is in the form of rent payments of $2.3 million a year for the life of the deal. The rent part has been included so that the team will be able to contribute to the $2 million annual maintenance fund that is also being supported by the county and city. The team has agreed to cover cost overruns, unless delays are caused by the city or county.

 

At the very least, Braman?s lawsuit could hold up plans for the ballpark. There are any number of other ways to delay and derail the project.

 

But people close to the project think this is the closest they?ve ever come to realizing a ballpark.

 

As I always say: stay tuned?.

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February 22, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 2011 http://blogs.trb.com/sports/custom/business/blog/

 

> Posted by Sarah Talalay at 12:16 PM

Random thoughts in the wake of the approvals to build a $515 million ballpark for the Marlins and a $94 million parking garage at the site of the Orange Bowl:

 

+ Yes, there are still lots of questions to be answered. Among them: How much will the infrastructure ? road improvements, utility costs, etc? -- cost and how will it be paid for? Which police force ? city of Miami or Miami-Dade County ? will patrol the county-owned venue? How much will it cost to make the building environmentally friendly? Why is the team only securing a $20 million line of credit for cost overruns? Will Norman Braman?s lawsuit derail or significantly delay the project?

 

+ Will a group of people that spent more than seven hours debating the binding agreement really be able to approve future agreements that spell out how the ballpark will be financed, who will oversee the construction and a host of other issues?

 

+ Miami Commissioners made the process look easy ? spending fewer than three hours on the topic. Was it really necessary for Miami-Dade Commissioners to spend more than seven hours on this? I know it?s politics and everyone wants his say, but even if each of the dozen commissioners in attendance has 15 minutes each on the topic, that?s still only three hours of debate. Maybe I?ve just been to too many of these meetings.

 

+ Major League Baseball won?t contribute to the building of a ballpark for the Marlins, but it should be considered significant that the industry has made a commitment ? which could be the first of many -- to helping offset the cost of making the venue environmentally friendly.

 

MLB President Bob DuPuy told city and county commissioners the Marlins ballpark would be the sport?s first ?Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design? project, and that it would match up to $1 million during the next two years to help achieve that goal.

 

DuPuy also promised to continue discussions to create a youth baseball academy in Hialeah, which you may recall was one of the locations considered for a ballpark in the past, and to discuss options for the underused Homestead baseball complex.

 

+ And speaking of DuPuy, when it looked like the stadium agreement might be held up when county commissioners fretted over the issue of patrols for the venue and considered making changes to the document, which would have required it be sent back to the city for another vote, DuPuy went to the podium and forcefully urged a decision: ?From Major League Baseball?s standpoint, the failure to move forward today is a death knell for baseball in South Florida.?

 

+ And finally, for now, there?s still more work to be done, but politicians, Marlins and MLB officials were all smiles after the agreement was approved late Thursday.

 

Marlins President David Samson called it: "The first day of the rest of our franchise history."

 

And DuPuy told commissioners they wouldn?t be sorry when the ballpark opens and team changes its name to Miami Marlins: ?I can promise you as difficult as these processes are, on Opening Day, when you see the looks on the kids faces as they come through the turnstiles to see the very first Miami Marlins game in the new ballpark, I guarantee you for everybody in this room, it?ll be all worth it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Marlins Stadium Update No. 911,000

 

> Posted by Sarah Talalay at 11:25 PM

OK, it?s not much of an update, but it?s almost the deadline for an agreement on which police and fire departments will patrol a new Marlins ballpark. Among the items raised during last month?s seemingly endless Miami-Dade County Commission debate over the ballpark was whether county or city police and fire would patrol the venue.

 

County officials promised to resolve the contentious issue within 30 days ? or risk derailing the plan to build a $515 million retractable roof ballpark at the site of the Orange Bowl.

 

On Tuesday, county commissioners extended the deadline for the law enforcement issue to be resolved until April 8 ? the next scheduled meeting of county commissioners. I?m being told the issue of which jurisdiction will win the coveted patrol ? more than likely it will be a blended patrol ? will be resolved and will not prevent the ballpark agreement from moving forward.

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

 

At least now we have a date when to expect an announcement of the law enforcement issue in the new stadium. April 8

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  • 3 weeks later...

April 8, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 40,808

 

> Posted by Sarah Talalay at 6:25 PM

Miami-Dade County Commissioners signed off on a plan Tuesday to split the police and fire patrols at a new Marlins ballpark between the county and city of Miami, but the heated debate could still spell trouble for a ballpark at the Orange Bowl.

 

Armando Aguilar, president of Miami?s Fraternal Order of Police, objected to the plan and several commissioners still have serious reservations about the financing for the $515 million ballpark and $94 million garage, which relies heavily on tourist taxes. Commissioners voted 7-3 for the security plan, with Commissioners Natacha Seijas, Javier Souto and Joe Martinez voting no and Commissioners Katy Sorenson, Rebeca Sosa and Carlos Gimenez absent at the time of the vote.

 

The security plan will be part of the ballpark management agreement, which along with the financing and construction agreements must be in place by July 1, under the terms of the Baseball Stadium Agreement approved in February.

 

Under the security plan, county police will patrol inside the venue while the city handles the surrounding area and the traffic. For eight city events at the venue each year, city police would patrol the venue; likewise, the county would handle the eight county events. Firefighters meanwhile will share responsibilities for each event with equal numbers of units from the city and county.

 

The city commission is expected to consider the plan at its meeting on Thursday.

 

But the security agreement stirred little reaction from commissioners, who instead took aim at the ballpark financing plan.

 

Martinez said he is particularly concerned that general fund revenue, rather than tourist taxes, will be put toward the ballpark under the city-county plan to fund $3 billion in projects, including a port tunnel, museums and the ballpark. The plan calls for the expansion of the city?s redevelopment agencies to generate more property tax dollars so tourist taxes can be used for other projects.

 

County Manager George Burgess insisted several times the ballpark is not contingent on expanding the redevelopment agencies and that the ballpark does not rely on general fund revenue, but that the additional property tax money will allow the county to fund other projects.

 

Souto, who opposes the city-county plan, called the whole project ?fuzzy math.?

 

?The whole project is a beautiful project, if we have the monies, but we don?t have the monies,? Souto said.

 

Gimenez, too, opposes the baseball stadium agreement, over concerns the Marlins? contribution has been reduced and the funding for infrastructure has not been determined. He and Martinez also expressed concern that there aren?t enough votes on the commission to move the project forward.

 

The agreement reached in February only required a majority vote of commissioners, but subsequent votes on the final agreements require a two-thirds vote of the commissioners present ? or nine if all 13 commissioners are in attendance.

 

Meanwhile Burgess and Assistant County Manager Ray Baker are traveling to Washington, DC where they will take a tour of the Nationals just-opened ballpark on Wednesday. The Marlins are playing the Nationals Wednesday and Thursday.

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I was watching the commission meeting online because I wanted to see what was said about the stadium. It started off about the police and then some commissioners (Martinez and Souto specifically) tried to turn the session into a debate on the whole "global megadeal". Martinez was going back and fourth with Burgess, with Martinez being confused that money for this project is coming from Miami residents and an expasperated Burgess trying to explain why he was wrong. Martinez sounded like he just didn't understand how the financing worked, with Burgess saying they needed to sit down together again so he could explain it. Martinez said he wasn't sure they had the 9 votes to approve the deal. The whole thing makes you uneasy about the final outcome, but I think in the end, when evertything is written out on paper, they will end up approving it. You don't run a marathon and then stop after the 25th mile. The July meeting will be worth watching though.

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