It’s looking like a long shot that a deal will be made to finance a stadium for the Marlins at Pompano Park, but serious conversations have gone on for some months. We might not have known about the talks, which may never result in a deal, if Broward County Commissioners hadn’t received heat for pledging to help the Baltimore Orioles with their plan to overhaul Fort Lauderdale Stadium for spring training.
Marlins fans called and sent emails to commissioners criticizing them for offering to help the Orioles, who hold spring training for six weeks a year, to the tune of $800,000 a year for 30 years, while the hometown Marlins languish without a completed stadium deal.
County Mayor Ben Graber said he was honest with his constituents. “I told some people we were having negotiations with the Marlins and to be patient,” said Graber, who still hopes to be able to announce a deal before he leaves office Nov. 7.
Other issues to consider:
+ While Pompano Park Harness Track officials are open to the idea of adding a ballpark to their 223 acres, which are soon to be home to a racino with 1,500 slots, bars and restaurants, it’s unclear if Major League Baseball will allow a stadium on track property or for gambling (in this case slots) revenue to be used to finance the venue. MLB has said it would need to “closely review” any such proposal.
Gambling is a big issue for baseball, but the industry has allowed casino and Indian tribe sponsorships of teams in the past. In 2003, the Marlins and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida struck a deal for the tribe to put up an ad that covers half of the outfield wall at Dolphin Stadium. And in 2000, the Sycuan Tribe, which runs a casino in San Diego County, paid more than $1.5 million to be the title sponsor of the San Diego Padres season. MLB did not object to those deals because the tribes’ casinos do not have sports-book betting.
+ Meanwhile, officials remain tight-lipped about the status of talks in both downtown Miami, where MLB has contracts to purchase property south of Miami Arena, and in Hialeah, where Miami-Dade County, the city and Marlins representatives have been focusing their attention. A meeting of representatives of the three sides and MLB was postponed because of MLB’s labor talks, but the sides are working to reschedule the meeting. And Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess said he’s not concerned about talks occurring in Pompano Beach.
“That other folks are looking at ways they might be able to come up with a workable arrangement for a stadium doesn’t concern me at all. No more than the whole San Antonio discussion did,” Burgess said. “Whatever will be will be. It doesn’t slow us down or accelerate us.”
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