new renderings after article
Vote set on Florida Marlins stadium; final sketches released
BY CHARLES RABIN
Two World Series titles aside, the most pivotal day in the Florida Marlins' history may be Feb. 13 -- when Miami and Miami-Dade commissioners are finally scheduled to vote on the remaining contracts that would give the team the permanent home it has craved for a decade. On Tuesday, the new stadium's renderings were released for the first time, showing how the stadium would help reshape Little Havana. Separately, County Manager George Burgess released the five contracts needed to close the deal Tuesday, saying the Marlins agreed to a host of concessions that make the $515 million stadium plan much easier to accept at the county level. ''We got more because I felt like we needed to get more,'' said Burgess, noting the baseball stadium agreement signed by the parties over a year ago, was just a "starting point.'' Among the changes in the agreement:
• If Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria sells the team in the seven years after the agreement has been reached, the county would almost double its share of any profits.
• The ball club's $2.3 million a year in rent will go up by 2 percent each year.
• Extra costs due to scheduling or problems between the contractor and subcontractors will now be paid by the Marlins.
Still, the county's share of the stadium's cost is sure to jump from the previously stated $347 million. The county and Miami are each in for infrastructure costs like moving electrical lines and road improvements that are expected to cost up to $10 million each. And both governments will also shell out $1.7 million in an attempt to keep the Little Havana ballpark as green as possible. The Marlins -- consistently among the lowest salaried teams in Major League Baseball -- have complained for years of the bad deal they get from renting Dolphin Stadium from H. Wayne Huizenga. They say a permanent home with fixed concessions and suites will allow them to compete financially with other ball clubs. They hope to be able to play in a 37,000 seat, retractable-roof stadium by Opening Day 2012. It will include 1,000 standing room only tickets. The team's lease at Dolphin Stadium runs out after 2011, but Marlins executives hope to renegotiate for another year with soon-to-be new Dolphin owner Stephen Ross. To finance the stadium, the county will spend $347 million in mostly tourist created taxes, the city will spend $13 million and the Marlins will pony up $155 million -- though $35 million of that will be fronted by the county and repaid through rent payments. Burgess said the dire economy shouldn't impact construction plans, saying he has personally met with the banks competing to loan the team its share. Commissioners from both the city and county are expected to vote on the management, construction, assurance, nonrelocation and parking contracts on Feb. 13. Because the management and construction contracts were not bid out, it requires a two-thirds vote of county commissioners to pass. Though Burgess said he has no concerns regarding the Marlins' ability to finance their end of the deal, there is a new clause in the deal that allows any of the three entities to pull out of the agreement by the middle of 2009 should the financing be in jeopardy. Burgess said the term was added, "to err on the cautious side.''