Despite the public silence, Miami-Dade County commissioners haven’t given up on the idea of a publicly financed baseball stadium for the Marlins in the city of Miami.
The commission’s Airport and Tourism Committee adopted a resolution Tuesday directing County Mayor Carlos Alvarez or his designee to identify non-general fund revenue and negotiate a deal with the city of Miami and the team for a ballpark at the location of the Orange Bowl.
But not everyone agreed the location was the best one for baseball.
“I am not convinced the Orange Bowl is the best site,” Commissioner Carlos Gimenez said. “I’m convinced it’s a viable site. I don't think it's the best site. I would hate for us to say this is it ... I think we need to do more study on the economics, the economic impact of being at the Orange Bowl site.”
Gimenez reminded that when he was Miami city manager the city studied the site and didn’t determine it to be the best for baseball. “I think it’s a viable site, but not something I think we should do right now.”
He questioned what became of the publicly-owned site just north of the county government center, which County Manager George Burgess identified last November as a potential location if another spot could be found for a planned Children’s Courthouse. “We never got a final word from the manager on the subject, at least that I saw,” Gimenez said. “At this point I agree with everything else, except for the site. I think we ought to do more study on it.”
His colleagues on the committee, Commissioners Jose “Pepe” Diaz and Joe Martinez, however, support the Orange Bowl location.
“We have looked at possibly every situation,” Diaz said. “The problem comes down to the dollars. We would probably have to buy a site, if we were going to do it downtown.”
All three commissioners support using the $50 million in general obligation bond funding county voters agreed in 2004 to put toward the city of Miami’s planned renovation of the Orange Bowl. With the University of Miami Hurricanes moving football games to Dolphin Stadium next year, the OB renovation is off and the money could be put toward a ballpark at the Orange Bowl, but only if a public hearing on the issue is held.
Although officials have expressed interest in putting the bond money toward a Marlins ballpark, it is not yet clear both the county and the city will ultimately agree to move the money.
Martinez, who suggested the OB location back in March, upon learning the Hurricanes might move to Dolphin Stadium, wants to ensure the city contributes to the ballpark plan. “They’ve been backing out of a lot of issues lately,” Martinez said.
Martinez also made a request that the Orange Bowl sign on the stadium somehow be preserved at the site. “I’d like to see if the façade facing west could be included in any architectural or engineering design,” he said.
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