You guys are probably sick of me railing against the Marlins’ stadium deal by now. I’ll stop railing when they stop giving me things to rail against:
If the devil is indeed the details, then the devil casts an awfully long shadow in the construction agreement between Miami-Dade County and the Florida Marlins for a new ballpark. Sprung both on the Miami City Commission and Miami-Dade County the night before votes on final approval, it’s pretty clear County Manager George Burgess was eager to see the agreement pass before anyone realized what the Marlins were receiving.
In the end, quite a lot. And in the end, if City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff did nothing other than delay the deal so the entire agreement could be examined, he’ll probably go down as a hero . . .
. . . We’ve already covered the fact the total cost of this project will be a lot closer to $2 billion than the $606 million figure tossed about by the Marlins. Also noteworthy: the fact that there’s no analysis of the bonds needed to fund construction. Are they even sellable in today’s economy? And if so, what interest rate is taxpayer looking at? Saying hotel taxes will pay for the bonds is one thing; not saying how much the bonds will cost (not even an educated guess) is another.
And if the hotel-tax revenue comes up short, who will pay off the bonds? Not the Marlins. Rather, Miami-Dade taxpayers will.
I spent the last four years of my private sector life litigating the cost overruns and the consequences of a bond shortfall in connection with a publicly-financed minor league hockey arena on behalf of a municipality. In that case, the construction agreement was so in favor of the municipality that it was almost comical, and the end-of-project expenses were borne by the contractor. Despite this, millions were spent by taxpayers to fight a construction money grab. If the contract had been less favorable to the city, taxpayers would have taken it in the hiney from the get-go and then still would have had to incur legal fees to try and get back to even. From the sound of it, that’s what Miami is in for if this deal is approved.
The Marlins’ moment of truth was last Friday and it passed without a deal. I have this feeling that they won’t get that good of a shot again.
(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)