Gov. Charlie Crist has always been supportive of the Marlins’ effort to finance a new ballpark.
On Monday, the former general counsel of Minor League Baseball said the team ought to try asking the Legislature again for a $60 million sales tax rebate to help pay for a new home. In May, the team lost out on state funding for the sixth time in eight years when the Senate adjourned without considering the funding request, which had been approved by the House.
“Things have changed economically, so it might be a little more challenging under the current climate, but I would encourage them to try again,” Crist said during a meeting of the Sun-Sentinel’s editorial board. “I view it as an economic stimulant to any community that has a professional sports team.”
Crist said repeatedly this spring that he views professional sports teams as an engine for economic development and a source of pride for a community. He dismisses the notion of teams not needing help because “it’s millionaire players and billionaire owners.”
“The help in my view comes for two things: people who work at the stadium, people who sell hot dogs, people who work in concession stands, people who work in the parking lots. The dovetail of economic opportunity,” Crist said. “There’s another part I think is important, too, what those teams do to a community, particularly when they win, and sort of a spirit that it develops. Look what happened when the Marlins won the World Series, not once but twice. I was down in South Florida on occasion. It’s wonderful how it lifts the spirit of a community, and sometimes the state. And I think that’s important. I want people to be happy, I want them to enjoy things like that and it can have the added benefit of being a tremendous economic engine for a community. I would encourage them to try again.”