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Old arena could be part of a deal to build stadium

 

The old Miami Arena could go on the auction block in a deal brokered by Miami city officials that could pave the way for a baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins.

 

BY KARL ROSS AND OSCAR CORRAL

 

kross@herald.com

 

 

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz will unveil a proposal today to sell the Miami Arena in a deal that could mesh with plans to build a baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins, The Herald has learned.

 

Late in the day Monday, Diaz submitted a change to the meeting agenda for the entity that runs the arena, the Miami Sports & Exhibition Authority (MSEA).

 

Diaz declined to comment through a spokesman, but his office said the mayor was working on his remarks to the board, which he also chairs.

 

Last week, he canceled the board's regularly scheduled meeting and asked it to reconvene today.

 

The final item on the revised agenda: ``Discussion of selling the arena.''

 

The Herald reported Sunday that parking magnate Jacob ''Hank'' Sopher was attempting to buy the arena, which sits on one of the sites favored by the Marlins for a new stadium with a retractable roof.

 

The team hopes to have a stadium deal in place by March 15, and says the facility can be built for $325 million, not including land.

 

Miami city officials have said they would only provide land if the team builds on the Orange Bowl grounds.

 

Sopher did not return a phone call to his office Monday.

 

Last week, he denied his interest in the arena property has anything to do with baseball, saying he would build a high-end shopping center there.

 

Sopher dismissed the Marlins as partners in any venture involving the arena, saying the team didn't have the money to participate.

 

Sources said Sopher recently met with Marlins president David Samson, but team officials declined to comment Monday.

 

Other city officials said they are unsure how all the pieces fit in place, though Sopher seems to be the protagonist.

 

Miami Commissioner Tom?s Regalado, who sits on the MSEA board, said City Manager Joe Arriola called him Saturday and said, ``We have a deal with Sopher.''

 

Regalado said he was enthusiastic about the prospect of a stadium deal but has been unable to learn more.

 

''I would love to see a stadium for the Marlins,'' he said. ``But I asked the city attorney today about 20 questions, and he didn't know the answer to 19.''

 

Arriola could not be reached for comment Monday night.

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As I posted a couple of days ago when this story initially broke, the City of Miami controls a significant amount land, by measurements enough to construct a stadium, immediately WEST of the Miami Arena between it and 95. The only land not under their control is a very modest (I'm being kind) two story condo that could be bought out to square off the site.

 

What makes this site work is there are on-ramps (from 95) precisely at this location. When you combine that with the Arena going from a non-property taxed entity (because it is a municipal entity) to one on the tax roles (which means a couple million $$$ a year to the City in property taxes) this looks to be a win-win for everyone.

 

While most of the talk has been about siting a stadium EAST of the present Arena site, in my estimation that is not feasible. Too many property owners control too many small lots to negotiate with. Eminent domain taking of the land by the City would take 10 years by the time it winds through the courts. The only location that fits the Marlins timetable is the City of Miami controlled lots west of the Arena.

 

Again, here's the overhead map of the area:

 

Link to Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Map of Miami Arena Area

 

The lots I'm discussing are bordered by:

 

NW 8th street to the NORTH

NW 1st Court on the EAST

NW 6th street on the SOUTH

NW 3rd street on the WEST

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from nbc6 (10/29/03):

 

Former Miami City Manager Carlos Gimenez studied potential ballpark sites for about a year the last time the new stadium issue was kicked around. On Wednesday, he said he thinks city-owned parking lots just to the west of the Miami Arena are the best choice.

 

"From a cost perspective, there's a lot of free available land," Gimenez said.

 

Metro-Rail has a stop right near the site and Interstate 95 is just blocks away.

 

But if the stadium is built on the Miami Arena parking lots, where would people park? Jimenez says the city might want to knock down the arena to free up space-- and money.

 

"If you don't have an arena, you don't have operating costs, so you can redirect that money, with the approval of the county, into a stadium deal."

http://www.nbc6.net/sports/2593680/detail.html

 

 

interesting...

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what i've read is that the lots west of the arena are too costly and too difficult to build upon because of the surrounding railroad tracks. apparently that complicates the construction process and makes it very difficult to do.

I'm not talking about building ON the Miami Arena site but a block WEST of it.

 

Three of the four lots are owned by the city so there is no acquisition costs. If you use the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser system (use the arrow tool to click on each site, it will tell you who owns a particular piece of land, use the hand to move the map to show another part of the area, use the zoom up or zoom down to show more or less of the overall area) you will find that the railroad right of way doesn't come into play UNLESS you try and use the Miami Arena site (i.e., you knock down the Arena and build on it), then the RR tracks are, as you point out accurately, are a problem.

 

But that's not the lots I'm talking about.

 

Look WEST of the Arena and RR tracks. Going west, the first two lots belong to the County (along NW 15th CT north and south), then to the west are four large tracks, three of which are vacant and controlled by the city. The remaining lot is a low income condo building that could easily be acquired. And half of that lot is city-controlled as well.

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from nbc6 (10/29/03):

 

Former Miami City Manager Carlos Gimenez studied potential ballpark sites for about a year the last time the new stadium issue was kicked around. On Wednesday, he said he thinks city-owned parking lots just to the west of the Miami Arena are the best choice.

 

"From a cost perspective, there's a lot of free available land," Gimenez said.

 

Metro-Rail has a stop right near the site and Interstate 95 is just blocks away.

 

But if the stadium is built on the Miami Arena parking lots, where would people park? Jimenez says the city might want to knock down the arena to free up space-- and money.

 

"If you don't have an arena, you don't have operating costs, so you can redirect that money, with the approval of the county, into a stadium deal."

http://www.nbc6.net/sports/2593680/detail.html

 

 

interesting...

exactly!

 

If you look NW of the Miami Arena there is another city-sized block owned by the city that could the home to a parking garage that would serve both the existing Arena and a new ballpark.

 

And if the Arena changes hands and is redone as a shopping mall, the City no longer has a reason to provide parking because there will no longer be events held there.

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from the herald (1/26/04):

 

PARCELS BROKERED

 

In the past year, Laquer brokered two deals on large parcels in the neighborhood.

 

One involved the tract along the Miami River that former team owner John Henry was eyeing before his stadium bid imploded in 2001. Those 12-plus acres sold to Epoch Corp. last November for $30.5 million, Laquer said.

 

The other sale comprised 56 acres formerly owned by Florida East Coast Industries, sold for $34.5 million to New York-based partnership that includes the one-time owners of the World Trade Center, she said.

 

That property, known as the FEC Buena Vista property, jutted as far south as Northwest 29th Street and is lined by Northeast 2nd and North Miami avenues.

 

Both properties are slated for mixed-use commercial and residential development. Another site that was considered in 2001, the so-called Arena West site near the Miami Arena, is also being developed.

 

County Manager George Burgess said he encouraged Henry to consider the FEC parcel but couldn't get him to bite. ''We suggested he look at that site and he didn't, which I think that was a monumental mistake,'' Burgess said.

 

Burgess said Henry missed opportunities by ''fixating'' on Bicentennial Park, with its 20 acres overlooking Biscayne Bay. That site is off the table, earmarked for the future construction of two museums, he said.

 

Burgess said talks with the team continue to focus on the Miami Arena and the Orange Bowl sites. City officials have proposed a complex at the Orange Bowl in which a new baseball stadium would be attached onto the existing football facility.

 

Team officials have been noncommittal about the city's concept, but they have not discarded the option.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sport...all/7795892.htm

 

could this be "arena west"? and is it being developed?

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Marlins2003 ... your site would be a perfect spot for it... it'll kinda have the feel of Turner Stadium and Jacobs field because you would see it as you drive through the highway.

 

i just hope we can get this done.

 

Has there been any talk with Miccossuki? ... i know they provided some of the costs for the Petco Park in San Diego (meaning the tribe over there, sorry im not to knowledgeble on tribes or the subject) , And im sure that after all the promotion they recieved from that big ol' sign at the pro, they would at least be inclined to inquire about it.

 

Those people have the money thats a fact.

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Marlins2003 ... your site would be a perfect spot for it... it'll kinda have the feel of Turner Stadium and Jacobs field because you would see it as you drive through the highway.

 

That's one of the things I like about the site - a zillion people a day would see the stadium both from 95 and all over downtown and be reminded about the Fish. The PR/marketing value would be immeasurable.

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you've probably seen in the recent herald article:

 

Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess said that he is aware the Marlins have been studying the arena site but is not involved in recent talks. He did say land east of the arena would be needed to build a baseball stadium.

 

''You'd have to go east because of the rail lines,'' Burgess said. ``So we're really precluded from going west.''

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/local/8068585.htm

 

 

isn't he referring to the difficulty in doing the project across the rail lines? i don't know anything at all about construction but it looks like it might be difficult since construction equipment would have to go across the lines, and the stadium, which would be larger than the miami arena, would be sandwiched between the rail lines and i-95.

 

again, i dont know anything at all about construction and have no clue what i'm talking about--i'm just trying to figure out what george burgess meant by his comment.

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you've probably seen in the recent herald article:

 

Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess said that he is aware the Marlins have been studying the arena site but is not involved in recent talks. He did say land east of the arena would be needed to build a baseball stadium.

 

''You'd have to go east because of the rail lines,'' Burgess said. ``So we're really precluded from going west.''

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/local/8068585.htm

 

 

isn't he referring to the difficulty in doing the project across the rail lines? i don't know anything at all about construction but it looks like it might be difficult since construction equipment would have to go across the lines, and the stadium, which would be larger than the miami arena, would be sandwiched between the rail lines and i-95.

 

again, i dont know anything at all about construction and have no clue what i'm talking about--i'm just trying to figure out what george burgess meant by his comment.

Alka, buddy, you keep missing the point.

 

IF YOU BUILT ON THE ARENA SITE because of the RR tracks you would have to acquire land EAST of the Arena to build a new stadium BUT WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT SITE.

 

Look to the WEST of the RR tracks, west of the Arena. Six lots, two owned by the county, three and half by the City, and a small lot which is a low end condo. The RR don't come into play at all.

 

The whole idea is Sopher buys the Arena and KEEPS IT, remodels it into a shopping center and the Marlins build where the old parking was for the Arena between it and 95.

 

Have you looked at the map link I posted?

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Alka, buddy, you keep missing the point.

 

IF YOU BUILT ON THE ARENA SITE because of the RR tracks you would have to acquire land EAST of the Arena to build a new stadium BUT WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT SITE.

yes, i understood that very well the first time and looked at the map site about 5 times.

 

but now that you point it out again, it sounds like i misunderstood burgess' quote. his quote refers to building on the arena itself and not only on the lots to the west--which i totally missed since i was thinking in my head that sopher would be getting the arena anyway.

 

my fault, sorry.

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Guest Juanky

The good thing about this is, the highway wouldn't be the only viable way to get to the game. I'd love the ability of taking the Metrorail to games, and (correct me if I'm wrong) but I'm pretty sure there is a stop right there, I think the same stop for the new Arena.

 

Just one question- What kind of park would this give us? I doubt the franchise would strive to build a small park with such a pitching oriented team, but will it be possible to make another cavernous park? Or are we stuck with a bandbox?

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As I posted a couple of days ago when this story initially broke, the City of Miami controls a significant amount land, by measurements enough to construct a stadium, immediately WEST of the Miami Arena between it and 95. The only land not under their control is a very modest (I'm being kind) two story condo that could be bought out to square off the site.

 

What makes this site work is there are on-ramps (from 95) precisely at this location. When you combine that with the Arena going from a non-property taxed entity (because it is a municipal entity) to one on the tax roles (which means a couple million $$$ a year to the City in property taxes) this looks to be a win-win for everyone.

 

While most of the talk has been about siting a stadium EAST of the present Arena site, in my estimation that is not feasible. Too many property owners control too many small lots to negotiate with. Eminent domain taking of the land by the City would take 10 years by the time it winds through the courts. The only location that fits the Marlins timetable is the City of Miami controlled lots west of the Arena.

 

Again, here's the overhead map of the area:

 

Link to Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Map of Miami Arena Area

 

The lots I'm discussing are bordered by:

 

NW 8th street to the NORTH

NW 15th Court on the EAST

NW 6th street on the SOUTH

NW 3rd street on the WEST

Marlins 2003, I am confused. I dont see any NW 15th Ct., but there is a NW 1st Ct that would be an east border to the area you are talking about. According to the map you provided anyway.

 

If this is the case, I like this scenario a lot. For one, it is between I-95 and the metro-rail stop (which I used many times to go to Heat/Canes games and I am coming from Culter Ridge). So, transportation wont be an issue (although parking would be...). I also like the idea of Miami Arena being developed into a shopping center - could help bring 'clients' to the games.

 

I dont know about that condo though...could be very interesting.

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Marlins 2003, I am confused. I dont see any NW 15th Ct., but there is a NW 1st Ct that would be an east border to the area you are talking about. According to the map you provided anyway.

 

 

LOLOL - that's what happens when you get old - the eyes go first. You are right it's NW 1st CT, not 15th lolol - I'll fix my original post.

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lol, I was about to say the same thing jonnylons...

 

I love that MetroRail access is already there. I used to take the Rail from UM to Panthers hockey games at the old Arena all the time. ("old Arena" lol, built in 1988)

 

Would there be enough space for parking?

 

I have to keep reminding myself that they don't need the parking size that Pro Player has. more like half of that I guess.... figuring 30k instead of 70k fans at the games. so I guess there'd be room. They can always put in a parking garage...

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Just one question- What kind of park would this give us? I doubt the franchise would strive to build a small park with such a pitching oriented team, but will it be possible to make another cavernous park? Or are we stuck with a bandbox?

Anything is possible. Especially iwith 40000-45000 seats the figure most mentioned.

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Marlins2003 - I hope this isnt just pure speculation on your part. It is pretty good though. I am not familiar with the real estate entanglements, but if a majority of the property is owned by the city/county, this could be a reality. I do think this would be an excellent location for ease of access. Parking would be an issue - but it could be easily resolved. You could even have the metro-stop adjacent to the stadium through LF...very interesting. If they do target this, I hope the park would be a pitcher's park, much like we currently have. It will be an interesting two weeks...

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When I first started talking about this site three months ago it was purely speculation but as things progressed and Sopher seems close to buying the Arena (thus freeing up the parking lot sites) and a deadline looming, it became obvious it is THE SITE.

 

I can't speak about my sources and I can't promise that this is the eventual site for the Fish, there's mega politics at play here, but I can tell you it's definitely under consideration. The dismal performance of the CRA is a big part of it, siting the Marlins here and dumping the Arena solves a whole lot of problems in the city.

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the arena will be sold no matter what happens with the marlins, right?

im asking because im a fan of the minor league haockey team the manatees, and if the arena is sold, there done

 

If Sopher is successful in buying the Arena the answer to your question is yes, the Manatees will be without a home, but it won't happen right away. You probably have at least one more season.

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