One of the two big votes on the Marlins’ ballpark is set for today, and there’s a lot of last minute pot-sweetening:
On the eve of the most important public vote in franchise history, the Florida Marlins agreed to crucial contract changes the team hopes will help secure its elusive permanent home in South Florida.
Miami commissioners will decide Thursday whether to approve a handful of contracts related to a new 37,000-seat retractable-roof stadium in Little Havana. If the vote passes at the city level, the stadium’s fate moves to the Miami-Dade County Commission, where the team’s long-running pursuit of a new facility could be settled Monday.
The most significant contract change would guarantee substantially more money to Miami and Miami-Dade County should the team change ownership after a new stadium rises.
Another change includes a team commitment to pay $500,000 a year to local charities, with $125,000 going to the city and county for baseball-related programs in their parks in the first seven years.
I suppose this is to be expected. This part of the deal, however, is simply odd:
And Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who jump-started the stadium chess match last month with a set of demands that delayed the final votes until now, said he hasn’t made up his mind — even as the Marlins’ concessions appear aimed at appeasing him.
”I always listen, though,” Sarnoff said Wednesday. ”I still haven’t seen the team’s books.” Another of his concerns is a so-called ”death clause” in the stadium contract, which says that if team owner Jeffrey Loria dies within seven years of stadium construction and leaves the team to an heir, who sells it, the city and county would lose their share of profits.
Look, I’m against all of this, but even if you’re not, can someone explain to me why on Earth Miami taxpayers should be penalized in order to make life easier for the heirs of a billionaire? What possible business justification is there for this provision?