BOB:  A Marlins stadium deal and Clemens’ Congressional hearing

Marlins stadium deal closer than ever

Although the final deal has yet to be approved, it looks like, after years of trying, the Florida Marlins finally have a deal for a new stadium. The team, along with Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami and MLB, have apparently reached an agreement on a $515 million stadium at the current site of the Orange Bowl. As with the Minnesota Twins, persistence pays off.

At this point, the final approvals appear to be a formality, but the city is set to meet early Thursday to approve the deal, with the county meeting later that day to do the same. The county and city will pitch in a combined $360 million, which will be funded by a tourist tax and a $50 million general obligation bond. The Marlins are supposed to contribute $155 million, though the odds are that they’ll have some other goodies built into the deal. There is no word on who’s on the hook for cost overruns if they occur.

The hope is that groundbreaking occurs before year end, with the stadium set to open for the 2011 season. It also looks like, as part of the deal, the Marlins will change their name to the Miami Marlins when they begin play in the new stadium.

Congressional hearing accomplishes little

Last Wednesday, Roger Clemens and his Mitchell report accuser, Brian McNamee, testified in front of a House of Representatives committee. Both of them stuck to their stories, with Clemens denying that he ever took performance-enhancing drugs while McNamee claimed that he had done the injecting. Also at issue was a conversation that Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte had with regard to Clemens’ use of HGH.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to figure out what the hearing accomplished. Some staffers got in trouble for seeking Clemens’ autograph, and the committee chairman, Henry Waxman, now regrets that the hearing even took place. Somebody is lying, though, and when it’s determined which party is doing so, you’ll be seeing perjury charges handed down.

Yankees spring training home renamed in honor of owner

The Tampa City Council and the Hillsborough County Commission unanimously voted to recommend that the name of the New York Yankees’ spring training home be changed to honor Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. The team actually owns the naming rights, but after the resolutions passed, the team complied by changing the field name from Legends Field to George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Sarasota makes late bid to keep Reds in Florida

Last week, Sarasota County Commissioners approved the use of $17.6 million to renovate the Cincinnati Reds’ current spring training home at the Ed Smith Stadium Complex. Unfortunately for the county, this gesture appears to be too late, because at least through April 15, the Reds are in an exclusive negotiating period with Goodyear, Ariz., that could end with the Reds moving to the Cactus League. At this point, it looks like the Reds’ move to Arizona in 2010 is a foregone conclusion, but stranger things have happened.

Athletics owner says new stadium is on track

Lew Wolff, the owner of the Oakland Athletics, recently talked about the progress of the Athletics’ new ballpark in Fremont, Calif. Set to open for either the 2012 or 2013 season, the stadium is still being studied, so there has not actually been a groundbreaking yet. The Athletics bought the land, and Cisco has already pitched in for the naming rights; it merely looks like the team has to get through what Wolff calls the “slow period” as they get through the studies.

Collusion arbitrator passes away at 84

Thomas T. Roberts passed away at his home last Wednesday at the age of 84. Roberts is best known for ruling that baseball owners colluded with one another to prevent free agents from obtaining better contracts in the 1980s. Roberts also awarded the first $1 million contract in arbitration when Fernando Valenzuela won his case in 1983, and he ruled that teams couldn’t negotiate drug testing clauses in individual contracts in lieu of what was currently in place under the collective bargaining agreement.

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