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Lowell Speaks about the Stadium Clause


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Elmore: Marlins using Lowell in squeeze play

 

By Charles Elmore, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, February 27, 2004

 

JUPITER -- As he dusts off his swing, you can't blame Mike Lowell for being a little curious about negotiations for a new Florida Marlins stadium in the next 18 days.

 

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The All-Star third baseman finds himself baseball's most prominent player in a new kind of squeeze play: Build it, or he won't come back.

 

The Marlins put it in his contract, in black and white. No stadium, no long-term deal.

 

No ballpark, and put his picture on a milk carton instead of the hometown program. While the debate simmers in the background -- no corporate welfare for millionaire athletes and owners vs. keep our World Series champions -- Lowell has emerged as the poster boy for the 2004 Save the Marlins campaign.

 

"I would obviously prefer to ensure my stay for at least the next four years," Lowell said. "If there's no stadium I'm pretty confident I'll have a job somewhere. "

 

Lowell's four-year, $32 million contract gives the team the option to cancel his last two seasons without a stadium-financing plan in place this year. In that case, he has a choice in the second year, 2005, to stay or look elsewhere.

 

The team's self-imposed deadline to reach a stadium agreement, March 15, will arrive before the regular season does. Yet to materialize are specific commitments from the city of Miami and the state to plug a money gap of at least $115 million. That's for a stadium on the low end of cost estimates, $325 million. If final costs approach half a billion dollars, the team will need more. The club has pledged $137 million and Miami-Dade County has offered $73 million.

 

"I think silence is good sometimes," Lowell said Thursday, before the team's first full-squad, spring-training workouts in Jupiter. "If the chances were totally up, we would have heard it in the papers by now. Hopefully there's a lot of private negotiations. I don't know. Deadlines make people move. If the deal's close to being done and they've extended the deadline by a little bit, I'm sure that's something that can be done. I'm sure if a deal is about to be sealed at midnight, they're not going to say the hell with it. "

 

Technically, Lowell's contract gives the defending world champions until Nov. 1 to strike a ballpark deal. But if the state is going to help, the logical time for approval is during the annual 60-day legislative session that starts in early March. In any case, the team wants a deal by mid-March in order to start construction on a stadium to open in 2007.

 

Lowell said he is not sure what he will do if a stadium plan falls apart.

 

"I don't know, actually," Lowell said. "I left that up to my agent and the lawyers for the Marlins. There's a million things you can do. It hasn't happened yet so I really haven't thought about it. I know something in my contract says a financing plan, and something says by opening day 2007. Or maybe it's a financing plan for 2007. I don't know. I kind of take it year by year. "

 

Lowell said he has not formally asked to be briefed on developments in the stadium campaign, but he gets bits and pieces of news from team executives such as President David Samson.

 

"Actually, David Samson, I've seen him at a couple of charity events," Lowell said. "He kind of gives me a heads-up. Not really on how things are going, but that they're meeting and talking. I'm really not going to harass him about it, because he's got enough things on his plate. I'm going to find out in due time."

 

As Lowell fielded ground balls Thursday, Samson watched from the sidelines.

 

"Eighteen days," Samson said. "I guess that's nearing. Plenty of time left to make a deal. We haven't really talked about it publicly. We are all working very hard."

 

The stadium issue did not come up in a city commission meeting in Miami on Thursday, said Alejandro Miyar, spokesman for Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. "There's nothing new to report," Miyar said. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has not ruled out his support if local governments can agree on an appropriate plan; his position remains unchanged, said Bush spokesman Jacob DiPietre. Whether the state legislature is prepared to go along, particularly the Senate, remains to be seen.

 

The Marlins are not saying what they will do without a stadium plan by March 15, though they have left open the idea of moving. Samson has said it's "not a good look for a state to lose franchises."

 

In the meantime, the team message goes: How's it look to lose All-Star third basemen? Lowell, a fan favorite who grew up in Coral Gables and wants to retire in South Florida, comes with all the hometown credentials.

 

"I want the stadium because when I'm done playing, I know Miami is going to be my home," he said. "I'd want to see baseball. That's something I never had as a kid, pro-baseball wise. I'd want to see that. I'd want to take my kids to see a game. That weighs more on me and my interest than my contract status."

 

charles_elmore@pbpost.com

 

This article just reminded me that the deadline is looming. I hope there getting something done privately.

 

 

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Lowell, a fan favorite who grew up in Coral Gables and wants to retire in South Florida, comes with all the hometown credentials.

 

"I want the stadium because when I'm done playing, I know Miami is going to be my home," he said. "I'd want to see baseball. That's something I never had as a kid, pro-baseball wise. I'd want to see that. I'd want to take my kids to see a game. That weighs more on me and my interest than my contract status.

Lowell's the man. :thumbup

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We need to built this stadium

 

Lowell cant go, we will be in trouble if he does. Without Pudge or Him it would be very hard to be competetive.

 

*Imagine's A.Gon batting 4th*

Wow, like a lemming.

 

It wasn't hard to interpret the terms of Lowell's contract as an underhanded ploy to leverage fan sentiment, but most of us got by it....

 

Please don't let irrational thought get in the way.....

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"I think silence is good sometimes," Lowell said Thursday, before the team's first full-squad, spring-training workouts in Jupiter. "If the chances were totally up, we would have heard it in the papers by now. Hopefully there's a lot of private negotiations. I don't know. Deadlines make people move. If the deal's close to being done and they've extended the deadline by a little bit, I'm sure that's something that can be done. I'm sure if a deal is about to be sealed at midnight, they're not going to say the hell with it. "

 

Exactly, Mike, exactly. :thumbup :shifty

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We need to built this stadium

 

Lowell cant go, we will be in trouble if he does. Without Pudge or Him it would be very hard to be competetive.

 

*Imagine's A.Gon batting 4th*

Wow, like a lemming.

 

It wasn't hard to interpret the terms of Lowell's contract as an underhanded ploy to leverage fan sentiment, but most of us got by it....

 

Please don't let irrational thought get in the way..... "like a lemming"? if wanting a new stadium so we can keep this team in South Florida makes me a "lemming", then march me off the cliff.

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