Ballparkus Interruptus

After all of that buildup last week, the Miami-Dade County Commission punted on Friday:

The Florida Marlins encountered another curveball Friday in their bid for a new ballpark.

City commissioners met for 7 1/2 hours without reaching a final decision on a plan to build a 37,000-seat stadium near downtown. They agreed to take up the issue again March 12.

The Miami-Dade County Commission was on deck to consider the proposal but never met. The Marlins had hoped for final approval of plans calling for a stadium projected to open in 2012 and cost $515 million, with the public paying $361 million.

City commissioners voted 2-2 on the plan, with one member absent and three votes required for approval. They were on the verge of adjournment, which likely would have killed the deal, but after a recess agreed to resume discussions next month.

“We are not angry. We are not bitter,” Marlins president David Samson said. “We are trying to figure out the best way to have a deal that makes sense for the city, county and team, and we’ll continue to work toward that.”

How on Earth is someone allowed to be absent for a vote with as much public interest as this one? I can’t help but wonder if it was all orchestrated somehow. Like they either want to kill or pass the deal quietly somehow, the former via the adjournment tack mentioned in the above quote or the latter via a series of delays designed to dissipate the heat somehow.

But hey, I get to rant about all of this again prior to March 12th, which is nice.

UPDATE: I’m told that the missing Commissioner was out on maternity leave. Since kids > ballparks, I guess that’s acceptable. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be off fielding hate mail from every mother on the planet for the remainder of the day.

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Comments

  1. James said...

    The absent voter was out on maternity leave. You’d think she would’ve had a replacement for something as important as this, but that would be too smart…

  2. lar said...

    I saw this at the Baseball Prospectus blog on Friday (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=1177):

    “The resistance was led by commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who said he would only vote for the deal if the Marlins: 1) agreed to pay cost overruns on stadium parking garages, 2) gave the city a cut of naming-rights revenue, which is currently slated to go only to the Marlins, and 3) promised to use any proceeds from the sale of the team to pay back the public’s costs before pocketing any profits. After a nearly one-hour recess, Marlins president David Samson said he’d work on capping garage costs, but wouldn’t budge on naming rights or sale proceeds. Sarnoff and commissioner Tomas Regalado said they’d only approve the deal with Sarnoff’s amendments, at which point meeting chair Joe Sanchez – a backer of the Marlins proposal – declared, “This deal is dead.””

  3. Pete Toms said...

    This is the most recent example (along with Citi Field and the new stadiums in NYC) of how politically contentious public funding of stadiums has become.

    I don’t follow Miami politics save for this subject, but if I understand correctly 2 of the 5 city Commissioners could be running for Mayor and the Commissioner who missed the vote is up for re-election.  This is about politics, not policy or prinicple.  I bet this would have passed as recently has 6 months ago.

    Also, if the city gets on side there remains the County’s decision.  And if I understand correctly the County has potentially a lot more exposure on this project than the City.

    Portland or Vegas?

  4. ElBonte said...

    “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be off fielding hate mail from every mother on the planet for the remainder of the day.”

    Does this mean that mothers will be venturing into their own basements?

  5. Richard in Dallas said...

    Pete:  Vegas.  Can’t lose there, as long as the object is to take in entertainment dollars.  Local fan base might not be much, but tourists from around the country that don’t have MLB at home would surely take in a game, provided they have a disproportionately large number of day games.  And they could make up for lost TV revenue by way of inflated ticket prices (tourists are suckers).

  6. Pete Toms said...

    Richard – Forbes recently listed Vegas as a likely destination for a pro sports franchsie citing pop growth as the biggest factor.

    “…Vegas, which has already grown its population 31% to 1.8 million since 2000, is expected to keep rolling toward 3.3 million by 2030.”

    Having said that, they need a stadium (cripes their AAA stadium ain’t even up to snuff) and I don’t think there is much corporate dough in Vegas.

    Having said that, it seems as viable as any other market without MLB.

  7. Jorge Costales said...

    The absent City of Miami Commissioner, Michelle Spence-Jones, is supposedly for the deal. So Sarnoff’s no vote may not matter. If she’s for it, it passes 3-2 even without Commissioner Sarnoff, the surprise no vote last time.

    Pure speculation on my part now – the reason there was such obvious disappointment last Friday may be that the Marlins thought they had the votes in the County lined up for later that day – the County vote was considered a tougher hurdle. The delay runs the risk of someone else flipping.

    Otherwise, once they did not have the votes[at 2-2], they could have just adjourned or postponed until the missing commissioner was scheduled to return. Even in the current agreement, the deadline is June 30th – all parties have the right to back out of the deal until then. So there is no real time deadline working against the deal at this time.

    Does San Antonio have a stadium to house the a MLB team, even a temporary one?

  8. glenn said...

    San Antonio baby!!!  Four million people in the SA-Austin corridor and growing really, really fast.  The third and fourth largest cities in Texas and the fourth fastest growing metro region in the US.  Great breakfast tacos and gulf fishing within an hour’s drive.  MARIACHIS!  Unbelievable spring and fall weather.  RiverWalk and Six Flags.  Did I mention MARIACHIS?!?

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