As the Marlins' stadium deal continues to flounder
and the back-and-forth between Carlos Alvarez and Miami city commissioners
heated up last week, let me attempt to approach the whole stadium issue from a ever-so-slightly different tack.
Before I explain, let me set a little background music. I had the pleasure of having lunch with Jorge
the other day, and the topic of the stadium came up as both of us are supporters of the stadium efforts. Jorge is by far the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to Marlins and stadium finances. Also not to be ignored is the ever-versatile Henry Gomez, who in his Fish or Cut Bait blog came up with one of the best explanations
in favor of a stadium that I've seen:
Now I'm not a big fan of subsidies, especially at the federal level because a lot of has to do with social engineering (like subsidizing corn ethanol which is a money loser and is driving up the price of food). I have no problem with tax breaks for corporations but honestly I'd like to see lower across the board tax rates for corporations if not the complete repeal of corporate taxes. But that's a discussion for another day. My point is that in the real world we help out individual businesses when we feel the benefit outweighs the cost.
That's why we build county facilities like the airport to serve private businesses like the airlines. That's why we build a performing arts center (ed. Arsht Center) that can be used by private organizations that produce such entertainment.
Obviously, Henry draws a line in the sand. If you think a successful baseball franchise is something worth having, hop on board. If not, then there's not much else I can tell you. I am willing to agree that the current stadium deal is far from perfect. In fact, in some cases it stinks on ice. Those who are against the current deal, but in favor of the Marlins being a successful and viable entity in South Florida, I don't have a big problem with. I DO have a problem with the prevailing attitude that the Marlins should pretty much take a hike if they can't foot the entire cost of a new stadium.
To me, this stadium issue is in many ways reflective of where we are and where we want to go as a community. A key component of any community is how it takes care of its arts and entertainment institutions. Think about all the progress we've made in the arts in recent years: the Arsht Center and the proposed Museum Park, for example. Also, think about the many failures: Florida Philharmonic, Concert Association of Florida, Miami Fusion, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Orange Bowl Parade, the Orange Bowl Stadium...I'm sure I missed a few, but you get the idea.
When it comes to stewarding our institutions, we're just not very good as a whole. In fact, we're often downright hostile. Not exactly a nice way to portray ourselves as a community. "We have bad and corrupt politicians", you may argue. Yes we do. So do a lot of other places, but they manage to execute complex deals involving public AND private interests. Why? I'd like to think that people in other places spend more time and energy trying to come up with solutions rather than identifying the problem over and over again. "Just Say NO" should be South Florida motto. It fits us like a glove, I'm sad to report.
When Miami commissioners Sarnoff and Spence-Jones sprang up at the last second and threw obstacles in the way of the stadium deal, that's hostile. Not in the act of opposing the deal, but the manner in which it was done. When people complain about stadium funds that should instead go to schools and transportation, when in fact it CAN'T be done, that's a sign of an ignorant populace
that our politicians prey upon.
County mayor Carlos Alvarez is a decent and honorable man, in my opinion. His vocal support of the stadium may or may not be on solid footing, but I think I know where he's coming from:
'Sincere and earnest work and meticulous and deliberate negotiations have been hijacked,'' Alvarez said Tuesday. ``The best intentions have been morphed into unreasonable demands that have nothing to do with baseball.''
''Quite frankly, I'm appalled as a citizen of Miami-Dade County,'' Alvarez said. He said if his fellow elected officials keep demanding concessions in exchange for their votes, ``we will never get any major project done in this community.''
Civic pride shouldn't make us blind, but it encourages good faith efforts to get things done. If the current deal is bad, let's iron it out without the grandstanding and without non-sensical comments from residents who think the stadium will take food away from people's mouths. If New York, Washington D.C., and many other cities can agree on complex stadium deals for their teams, why can't we? Wanting the best for a community doesn't mean throwing people under the bus simply because they want their baseball team to have a modern facility in which to play in. It means working in good faith and honestly ironing out differences. That's how things get done in life, when you care.
I encourage everyone who stuck with this to the end to visit Jorge's site
and read his many posts on the subject, especially those comparing the Marlins stadium with other new projects around the country.UPDATED (11 AM)
: Jackie Bueno Sousa fairly looks at both sides
of the issue and brings up some interesting statistics in today's Herald.
Labels: Marlins Stadium