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Miami voters to get a say in baseball stadium plan


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South Florida Business Journal -- Broward Edition - December 8, 2003






Miami voters to get a say in baseball stadium plan

Paola Iuspa-Abbott

Miami city commissioners have approved a March referendum to ask voters whether the city should play any role in building a baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins.


On Dec. 18, they will discuss the language of the question to be placed on the ballot. Commissioners need to approve the language before the end of the year to include it on the ballot March 8, the day of the presidential primaries.


"If we don't do it now," said Commissioner Tomas Regalado, "we will lose a full-year cycle. The next elections are in September."


The next opportunity would be during Miami's mayoral elections in September. But as they voted Nov. 25 on putting the referendum on the ballot, some commissioners feared the issue would become too politicized. Mayoral candidates could hijack the ballpark question and make it part of their political platform, some commissioners said.


The Marlins and Miami-Dade County recently worked out a proposal that partially funds an approximately $325 million, retractable-roof stadium. The proposal calls for Miami-Dade to provide $73 million in convention development tax, or bed tax, funding.


The Marlins would pay $10 million cash and $137 million during a 40-year period, said Miami City Manager Joe Arriola. He has met with the county and Marlins officials to discuss the ballpark financial plan.


Commissioners on Dec. 18 expect Arriola to bring them up to date on the negotiation talks, as they feel they were left "out of the loop," Regalado said.


The Marlins still need to identify sources to fund about $115 million.


The city, so far, has not found money to spend on the stadium, Arriola said.


"The moment we find a revenue source, I will come to you [commissioners] right away," he said. "But I haven't so far."


Currently, the only clear way for the city to participate in the project is by providing the land. There are two proposed sites.


One is the Miami Arena in Park West, a few blocks west of the $255 million performing arts center under construction and the AmericanAirlines Arena, home to the Miami Heat basketball team. The older, money-losing arena is the former home to the Florida Panthers and the Miami Heat.


The other site is around the Orange Bowl. Whether the Orange Bowl, home to the University of Miami's football team, would have to be demolished is not clear.


The city has invested about $21 million to revamp the 69-year-old sports venue. Miami officials also allocated $13 million from a Miami bond program for additional upgrades.


But before the city commits to any site, Regalado wants voters to have a say.


"We need to ask the people what kind of participation they want the city to have in building the stadium," he said.


The club declined to comment on the city's intention, Marlins spokesman P.J. Loyello said.


At the same time, the city is asking the Legislature to support any strategy the city manager may develop to help build the ballpark. The 2004 legislative session is scheduled from March 2 to April 30.


"We need to be prepared for any negotiation that may come up," said Ignacio Ortiz-Petit, the city's legislative liaison.


At the same time, the outcome of the March 8 referendum also would send a message to the Legislature on how Miami residents feel about the ballpark.


E-mail Miami-Dade real estate/international business writer Paola Iuspa-Abbott at [email protected].




? 2003 American City Business Journals Inc.

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This says language had to be approved by the end of 2003 to be on the March 8th ballot, did that ever happen? And whats the point of having Miami decide whether to get involved on March 8th when the county money pledge expires the next week. This is an old article, so I dont know what has changed since then, but I never heard anything about a referendum on the March ballot.

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the article is very old and incorrect, though...


i got my hopes up thinking this would be on the ballot until ross pointed out how old the article was. the city commission meeting (dec 17? i think) already nixed any possibility of the proposal discussed in this article.

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