[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Play Ball!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Play Ball!

Well, it finally looks like the Marlins have their new stadium. This is great news for us baseball fans, and it should be equally great news for those who want Miami to continue its slow but steady rise into the ranks of American cities that have something to offer for everybody.

But what about all the problems we have? Shouldn't those be solved before we invest in a new ballpark? I'll let Henry explain this one to us:
I've heard a lot of arguments for not building a ballpark based on the idea that we could find better uses for the money. Does anyone honestly believe that NOT building the ballpark will solve any of the major problems we face in the area? Really? Is our broken school system going to be fixed if we don't build a ballpark? Are our streetlights going to be synchronized for more efficient flow of traffic if we don't build a ballpark?

The city, the county and the state have all had revenue booms in the last 10-15 years and all of these problems have gotten worse not better. So let's fix what needs to be fixed but lets not blame a ballpark for it. Let's also add to the quality of life in the area.

We have a performing arts center that that costs the county millions and for which the county is on the hook and provides entertainment to far fewer people. I'm happy we have a PAC. Private entities profit from the PAC. But let's not be snobs. Sports is part of American culture. And like it or not most cities in America did pony up public funds for their sports teams' facilities. We can't complain about payroll and the owner being cheap if we don't give him the same tools other cities have given their owners. If we're always complaining about how Miami is inferior to other places maybe we should start acting like other places.
The other big argument anti-ballpark folks use is that, after the novelty of the stadium has worn off, people will stop showing up for games. Not necessarily.

I'm firmly convinced that South Florida is a hotbed of baseball. By hotbed, I mean an area where baseball is played year-round by people of all ages. Go to your nearest park on any weekend, even in December and January, and observe the number of people playing baseball versus other sports. I've seen kids here playing baseball on Christmas Day and Super Bowl Sunday! It's in part because of this that South Florida has produced incredible talent throughout the years. Marlins TV viewership, while not spectacular, is competitive with similar markets around the country.

Major League Baseball realizes all this. That's why they are willing to invest in the South Florida market. Otherwise, the Marlins would have had their bags packed for Las Vegas, San Antonio, Portland...fill in the blank, a few years back.

The Marlins' attendance problems have been a confluence of questionable moves/decisions by ownership which have inspired a lack of trust, current stadium issues, weather and the usual lack of civic loyalty among a fair number of our residents. Notice I didn't mention the location of Dolphins Stadium. Why? I don't think it's in that bad of a location. Could it be better? Yes. Is it better than the Orange Bowl site? It depends on where you live, but I think the answer is no. Still, if you put a dome on a modern ballpark at the current site, and have complementary entertainment options nearby, it would be a different story.

The OB site, while not ideal, offers the prospect of becoming a place where it's more than just showing up for the game and going home afterwards. Sure, it will likely be that way at the OB site at the beginning. But baseball belongs in an urban setting, which the OB site delivers in spades. It sits in an area where there are LOTS of baseball fans. That's how a ballpark atmosphere, both inside and out, develops. Given a chance, I think the area surrounding the OB can develop a rich baseball atmosphere. Also, you have proximity to downtown (only 1 mile away), Coconut Grove and SoBe. Right now, Dolphins Stadium is close to....Pembroke Pines? Nothing against the Pines, but it's strictly a residential, bedroom community. Nothing to make it stand out.

Once again, I'm excited that we'll have major league baseball as an family-centered entertainment option for us and our future generations.

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15 Comments:

Blogger nonee moose said...

I like that there'll be a hospital nearby, where we can send those rowdy D-Ray fans after we give 'em a little Havana love...

3:07 PM, February 22, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

There you go!

5:00 PM, February 22, 2008  
Blogger Rick said...

Robert: While I would certainly like to see MLB survive and, indeed, thrive here, I think this stadium location is a big mistake.

Sure it's attractive for the surrounding community which are, admittedly, baseball fans, but unless you think that 20,000 or so residents of Little Havana will fill the stadium each game, you have to consider the attractiveness of the stadium's location to non Little Havana residents. And that's where you have a problem.

I'm not sure how many people are going to want to drive to the stadium on 836 or the Palmetto in rush hour traffic in order to make a 7:05 evening game. I'm not sure how many Broward County residents will want to make that drive home at 10:00 PM after that 7:05 game to their residences in Sunrise or Pompano or Coral Springs. And I'm not sure how many people are going to want to deal with the surface street congestion around the stadium once they jump off the clogged expressways. And drive they will because there isn't any Metro Rail service or any other way to get to the stadium.

Granted, the same situation exists at Dolphin Stadium. Perhaps that's part of the reason why their attendance has been so abysmal. But at least you had the potential to draw from Miami-Dade, Broward and the southern part of Palm Beach with the north Dade location. South Florida isn't a "hotbed" of any sport as long as the team is a loser. History has shown us that time and time again down here.

I hope it works, I really do. I think it will for at least part of the first season. And all the people who predicted it would will make sure that everyone knows they knew what they were talking about. But the proof in the pudding is in the months and years to come. And that's where I think this location will prove to be far from a home run.

.

9:42 PM, February 22, 2008  
Blogger George L. Moneo said...

Robert, I'm shocked that this post hasn't generated garment-renting, teeth-gnashing, anti-Miami, no-tax-dollars-for-a-stadium caterwauling from of them there Pines residents, wink, wink. Maybe I drove him away. If I did, you owe me six-pack...

Nonee, the D-Rays suck. Maybe now our team will become a little more stable in the personnel department now that it has a permanent home.

(BTW, I wrote that first paragraph and then Krusty the Clown posted his comment. What an optimist I am. Rick, hopefully you won't be here in the "years to come" so leave the problem to us, OK. We'll do just fine while you play with your cows in Colorado or wherever the hell you're moving to.)

9:50 PM, February 22, 2008  
Blogger Rick said...

Robert: So you're actually assisting George compose his flames now?

Peas. Pod.

.

9:10 AM, February 23, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

Rick,

I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about regarding any assistance to George. Please. I'm trying to keep this as civil as possible.

Regarding the stadium, the location isn't ideal. I realize that. But the traffic southbound at 6 and 7 PM from Broward is nowhere as bad as it is going northbound from Dade at the same time. It will add about 15-20 minutes max to the current commute to DS. Same for the drive home.

Obviously, it's more than location that determines attendance. But again I think we have the elements necessary to build a good fan base. If location was the only determining factor, then there would be a flood of North Broward and South PB fans attending games right now. That's not exactly happening, therefore I don't think a move to the OB will change that. What CAN change is stability of the team and organization, as well as offering a modern, comfortable state of the art facility that people will want to visit. Don't underestimate the "tourist/visitor factor" either. I have attended a few out of town games while away on travel.

10:33 AM, February 23, 2008  
Blogger nonee moose said...

Agreed that the new stadium frees the team from some ornerous expense levels which they were under at JRS/PPS/NDS/WhateverS. I say this probably knowing full well that ownership was NOT losing money anyhow. But this will at least allow them to make money hand-over-fist, with a little left over to plunge back into the team and develop the roster.

As to the location? No, it's not ideal. I personally would have preferred that Guggenheim-like rendition to rest somewhere on the waterfront, downtown, where access can easibly be had by the way-home-from-work crowd. They're the ones who are on the hook to buy tickets, after all. That said, I don't think the OB site is a bad one. It has historically proven accessibility, such as it is. Will it hold up for 81 games? I think that has much less to do with location than with the product. Like the drunk guy said, "It's all stuck together."

George: D-Rays suck, but they're getting a new stadium. Watch the comparisons build. Heheh.

All due respect to the Browards, but where was their money in all this? I never liked the "Florida" Marlins. Reminds me of the "Texas" Rangers. Not the best role model for a franchise. Pretty nice ballpark, though.

1:30 PM, February 23, 2008  
Blogger Rick said...

I'm keeping it civil, Robert. Just pointing out that George couldn't have edited his comment without your help as the blog administrator. Unless George is lying and he read what I had written before making his comment. Whatever.

As far as the traffic goes, Robert, I have about 10 years of experience watching the traffic patterns of the Palmetto and the Turnpike flowing north to south, north of the 836, at rush hour...they are packed, my friend. At a standstill or barely moving most of the time. I can't vouch for 95 during those times, but if you're coming from Northwest Miami-Dade or West Broward and you're trying to get to the OB area, you are screwed.

As far as the attendance goes, I haven't seen any study of who is attending Marlins games at Dolphin Stadium. Apparently you have. Do you mind sharing it? Are there any tourists attending the games now? What percentage of patrons come from N. Broward and S. Palm Beach counties now? This would be great data to have and consider.

I've always been for a downtown location. You have mass transit coming in from the 'burbs. You have office workers. You have the tourists staying in hotels right there. Put it in the right place downtown, give it a great view of the skyline or, better yet, Biscayne Bay, and give patrons access to the city around it and you have a winner.

In the OB location, you have just another Dolphin Stadium in a different part of town.

.

1:32 PM, February 23, 2008  
Blogger George L. Moneo said...

Hey Rick, moron, I italicized my words in the last paragraph for emphasis. Do you see an "Ed:." reference in there? No? That's right. I wrote it.

Besides, if you knew how to read, you'd know immediately Robert didn't write it because of my reference to you darkening our fair city and wondering when you were going to get the hell out of here. Robert is too damn nice to write like that. I'm not.

Fucking putz.

1:37 PM, February 23, 2008  
Blogger Rick said...

And I really do have to laugh, Robert, that you're telling me to please keep it civil. Sorry.

.

1:40 PM, February 23, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

Rick,

I think the confusion over George's italicized comments has been cleared up.

I guess we have different experiences with southbound traffic into downtown Miami in the afternoon. No use going back and forth over our personal experiences with this.

I don't have personal stats handy, but I've seen stats that show a slight majority of Marlins SEASON TICKET holders coming from Broward and Palm Beach. However, Henry did a study on his Fish or Cut Bait blog which suggests that most of fans attending games come from Miami-Dade county. Go to the link provided in the beginning of the post, and go to Part 1 of South Florida Fan Base. There's a difference between season ticket holders and actual game attendees, as we know.

I agree that the ideal place is downtown, right on the water. That was shot down by Jeb Bush and the environmentalists years ago.

4:02 PM, February 23, 2008  
Blogger Henry Gomez said...

The location is only marginally worse than the location of the AAA and the PAC. It's a stone's throw. The land is there the political will is there. Baseball is an everyday game. You have to play it near where people are, they aren't going to travel a great distance in traffic to get there like they will for 8 football games. There is no other viable site at this point.

But you know what, the nattering nabobs of negativity always have to say something.

5:04 PM, February 23, 2008  
Blogger Ms Calabaza said...

My husband and I have a little hobby, when we travel in season we always attend a baseball game. We attended games in Pittsburgh, Camden Yards, Fenway, Wrigley and even Montreal among others. . . The main problem with this location is no mass transportation (always been Miami's problem). I don't think this location will work. I agree that people will not want to drive in to that traffic in Miami from other counties.

7:26 PM, February 23, 2008  
Blogger Carlos Miller said...

The people will attend the games as long as the Marlins remain competitive.

And by South Florida standards, that means they must be in the playoff hunt every year.

We already know the location sucks, so I don't know why the city is proceeding with that location.

Whatever happened to that area near the Miami Arena with all the train tracks leading to it?

Even more ideal, of course, would by right on the bay.

Right now, we have the advantage that we have no stadium, so we can start from scratch as far as location goes.

I don't understand the compelling need to place it at the Orange Bowl, which might be a decent location for a weekly football game, but not for a nightly baseball game.

My problem with using tax dollars to fund this stadium is that the Marlins ownership has historically and continually shit on the fans and on the team.

From Huzienga to Loria, it's been the same fuck you attitude.

How many other teams have fired a manager after he became "Manager of the Year""?

8:23 PM, February 23, 2008  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Miami has sky-high property-tax rates, lots of debt, an incipient real-estate depression, and the possibility of an overall economic recession. IOW, the County is just one or two adverse events away from financial crisis. And the idiots who run the place, who will mostly be out of office by the time the shit hits the fan, want to use public money to build a stadium for a team that won't take the risk to build its own stadium? Yeah, that's a great deal.

This deal is probably going to screw the taxpayers. And even if there's a possibility that the County could come out ahead, the odds of that happening are low, which makes this plan the height of irresponsibility. Taxpayers always lose on these deals.

9:33 PM, February 23, 2008  

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