[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Ballpark Decision Today (UPDATE)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ballpark Decision Today (UPDATE)

After what seems to be eons (wait a second, it HAS been eons now), the big decision should come down today on whether the Florida Marlins will get their new ballpark. Plenty of pros and cons regarding the ballpark have been thrown around and bantered in the local media in the past few days, with pro-ballpark advocates pointing at a civic resource as the key reason, and anti-ballpark folks looking at things from a "it isn't worth it" point of view.

I've made it no secret in this blog that I support the ballpark. I do understand some of the cons, however. For example, it would be nice if the Marlins had a little more invested money-wise in this deal (they ARE covering cost-overruns, give them that). The Marlins' failure or unwillingness to make public their financial statements understandably makes people nervous. The initial plans and renderings should have been more specific regarding commercial and retail around the site.

Other cons, however, I don't get.

"The money should be used for schools, libraries, etc." No, it can't.

"The Miami Beach Convention Center deserves the funding more than the Marlins". Actually, Miami-Dade voters approved a $55 million loan for a banquet hall addition to the MBCC in 2004, and $250 million total has been approved for the Convention Center, according to this Herald report. Why the money hasn't arrived isn't the Marlins' fault.

"Relying on tourist taxes will ensure failure because the current economic climate won't generate enough money to pay the ballpark debt". South Florida has seen several ups and downs in tourism during the past 25-30 years. Hurricanes, skyrocketing crime, terrorist attacks, you name it. There have been mostly ups however, and there's no reason to believe the ups won't come back, and soon. County estimates of future tourist tax generation have been very conservative compared to historical trends.

"Studies show that ballparks do not lead to an increase in business and economic growth". Of course not. Ballparks by themselves don't. It's ballparks AND planning that do. As mentioned above, both the city and the county could do a much better job of ensuring us that they will concentrate on making the area around the ballpark a lively destination, but I believe it will happen anyway. I just do.

Frank Nero of the Beacon Council explained many of the pros well enough so I don't have to rehash them here.

As Henry Gomez has stated more than once, if we aspire to be a world-class community and have these kind of projects and buildings in our city, we need to act like one and get the deals done. It's not like other cities haven't been through this. Somehow, other cities find ways to support their sports teams. The ills our community face have nothing to do with the Florida Marlins and their quest for a ballpark. They have to do in large part with community apathy (just say NO all the time and see what happens) and bad choices at the polls which have led to some awful elected officials. For once, we can step up as a community and stand behind a facility and a ballpark that will serve as a place of entertainment and community pride for years to come.

UPDATE 440 PM: Quick update as I run out the door - Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has voted against the deal unless the Marlins makes certain concessions. This makes the vote 2-2 in the city, so no deal for now. The Sun-Sentinel has a live blog of the proceedings at City Hall.

One comment: if the deal is the same in principle now as it was when it last went through the city commission months ago, why all of a sudden the change in heart from Sarnoff? He's perfectly reasonable in wanting to look at this deal closely before casting a final decision, but he most certainly had plenty of time to do so. To all of a sudden stall this thing at the last second because he wants to take a closer look at the deal smells like bad and grossly dishonest politics to me.



Post a Comment

<< Home