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September 29, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 54,929

Attorneys for the plaintiff, Dr. Gregory Strand, in the Florida Supreme Court case that has been holding up a decision in auto dealer Norman Braman’s suit targeting the financing for a Marlins ballpark filed a motion today to request yet another re-hearing of the case.

The court has already re-heard the case once - a year ago. On Sept. 18, the state's high court overturned its earlier 7-0 decision, deciding instead in a 4-2 ruling that a public vote isn't necessary when using property taxes to pay off bonds issued for large public projects. The case, Strand v. Escambia County, deals with using property tax dollars to repay a $135 million bond issue without first asking taxpayers.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen has said she plans to follow the court’s newest ruling that referendums aren’t needed to use property taxes to pay back bonds on large public projects. But at the request of Braman’s attorneys, she agreed to wait until Oct. 2, when the period to request a re-hearing expires.

It’s unclear whether the motion to re-hear the case will alter Cohen’s decision to release her ruling on Thursday, but it’s unlikely. It also seems unlikely the court would decide to re-hear the case a second time.

The court is not required to re-hear the case, but it also has no timetable for making its decision.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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September 27, 2008

Hialeah to benefit from Marlins ballpark plans

For much of 2006, the Marlins and Miami-Dade County were considering a swath of land in far western Hialeah for a new ballpark. The area west of I-75 and east of Florida’s Turnpike ultimately proved difficult and costly to pull together and officials eventually renewed stadium talks with the city of Miami.

But Hialeah is to benefit from the Marlins stadium plans. Earlier this year, Major League Baseball threw the city a bone, promising to help develop a youth baseball academy in the city. Hialeah and Miami-Dade Sports Commission officials brought the academy a step closer to reality this week. The commission board approved on Thursday a resolution supporting the project and Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina said MLB’s commitment is firm.

Robaina said the academy is one of the community benefits, the Marlins, MLB, the county and the city agreed would be part of the baseball stadium agreement that was approved in February.

The 20-acre complex is to include seven baseball fields, batting cages, clubhouse, training facility and office space. It is to be open to kids as young as 5 through high school age and is to include camps and clinics. Robaina expects it to attract players from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and beyond.

Robaina said the city is providing the land and MLB has agreed to put about $3.5 million into the project, which will also serve as a training facility for coaches, athletic trainers, scouts, and umpires. The academy is expected to be similar to one MLB established in Compton, Calif.

“I was looking for something I could tie into baseball and some sort of vocational with umpires and field crews, training,” Robaina said..

Construction is expected to start in 2009 and be completed by mid-2010. Robaina says he has been told the project will move forward, even if the long-awaited Marlins ballpark is never built on the site of the former Orange Bowl.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193)

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September 26, 2008

Dunkin’ Donuts and harness racing

Dunkin’ Donuts keeps adding sports to its promotions roster. The company has struck deals with baseball and basketball teams, including the Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Heat. Now it’s supporting harness racing.

You can meet and get autographs from and photographs with Pompano Park Harness Track drivers Bruce Ranger, Wally Hennessey and Dan Clements on Saturday morning between 10 a.m. and noon at the grand re-opening of the Dunkin’ Donuts at 1405 S. Powerline Rd., Pompano Beach. One autograph per person per driver.

The drivers will be part of an open house at the store from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Read more in our Action blog.

POSTED IN: Promotions (120)

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September 25, 2008

Indoor lacrosse coming to Sunrise

BankAtlantic Center is to host the first professional lacrosse game in Florida in January, in what officials say will serve as a test to see whether South Florida can sustain its own indoor lacrosse team.

Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, the owner of the Panthers and operator of the arena, and the National Lacrosse League announced the Jan. 3 regular season matchup between the New York Titans and Toronto Rock this afternoon. Tickets for the matchup dubbed the Florida Lacrosse Cup, which will cost $10, $15 and $25, go on sale on Friday through Ticketmaster (; 954-523-3309 in Broward; 561-966-3309 in Palm Beach).

The NLL has 13 teams across the U.S. and Canada and plays a 16-game schedule between January and April. The league is looking to expand.

“We definitely view South Florida as a place for future expansion, and we are bringing the game here on January 3 to give fans a chance to experience the excitement of the NLL in person,” NLL Commissioner Jim Jennings said in a statement.

Sunrise Sports & Entertainment President Michael Yormark said the league contacted the Panthers four or five years ago about the possibility of expanding. But the team and venue weren’t ready yet, Yormark said.

Now, Yormark said, “There’s some potential there. There are quite a few NHL teams that are now in the indoor lacrosse business.”

Yormark said four or five NLL teams are associated with the NHL teams where they play, including the Colorado Mammoth, which is owned by Stan Kroenke, who also owns the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. Adapting the arena from hockey to lacrosse isn't difficult and some arenas host a lacrosse game in the afternoon followed by a hockey game that night, Yormark said. He said the fan bases are similar, too.

The Florida Lacrosse Cup game, Yormark said, will give SSE a sense of whether the community can sustain yet another lower-tier sport.

The region's track record with minor league sports hasn't exactly been stellar.

“We think it’s an opportunity to test the market,” Yormark said stressing that games are played in the winter. “If it’s successful, the goal would be to explore the possibility of having an expansion team.”

Yormark said organizers hope the Jan. 3 game will draw 8,000 to 10,000 people.

Is there any way that many people show up? And if they do, does South Florida get another team? Will you go?

POSTED IN: Florida Panthers (108), Minor League (6)

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Zo’s busy week

Author. Voter registration advocate. Medical center spokesman.

Heat center Alonzo Mourning is busy these days. His autobiography, Resilience: Faith, Focus, Triumph, is scheduled to be released on Tuesday.

He spent Wednesday on Florida college campuses – stopping at FIU, Florida Memorial University and the University of Central Florida – to register voters and encourage them to vote for Barack Obama.

Read about his appearance at UCF here.

And this morning, the kidney transplant recipient became the spokesman for the Miami Transplant Institute at Jackson Memorial Hospital and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. See photo (by Robert I. Siegel) of Mourning shaking hands with Dr. Pascal J. Goldschmidt, senior vice president of medical affairs and dean of the Miller School.

Mourning, who was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease in 2000, discussed how his own experience, including being surprised by the cost of anti-rejection medications, and struggling to make his return to basketball, inspired him to want to help others.

The institute has performed 7,000 kidney transplants.

“I know firsthand that transplantation saves lives and I want to lend my voice and influence to build the Miami Transplant Institute into a world leader in clinical care and research,” Mourning said in a statement.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174)

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September 24, 2008

Beasley signs with adidas

Heat rookie Michael Beasley confirmed today that he has signed a shoe deal with adidas. The deal was first reported by the SportsBusiness Journal’s Liz Mullen, but Beasley, the No. 2 pick overall, spoke briefly about it this afternoon to reporters, including our Heat beat writer, Ira Winderman.

"It was the best situation for me," Beasley said. "I've been playing in adidas since I was 13 years old. I established a relationship with some of the guys on the staff and financially it was the best situation for me and my family."

Read the rest of Ira’s story here.

Mullen reported that Steven Reed, Beasley’s business manager, said his client agreed to the deal “enthusiastically” because adidas is the brand he’s worn “his whole playing life.”

Clearly Beasley has worn other shoes, including Nike’s Jordan brand. CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell looks at why Reed’s comment doesn’t make sense here.

POSTED IN: Endorsements (20), Miami Heat (174), Shoes (15)

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Marlins rank last in attendance … again

Not exactly a news flash, but the Marlins ranked last again in Major League Baseball for tickets sold this season.

The team sold 1,335,079 tickets or an average of 16,688 per game over 80 dates, including a doubleheader, at Dolphin Stadium in 2008. That’s down from 1,370,511 or 16,920 per game in 2007.

Maybe that shouldn’t be so surprising, but even with five games left to play, the Marlins are guaranteed to win 10 more games this year than last. They are currently 81-76 and finished 2007 at 71-91. And this year’s team was still in playoff contention until last night, in a season that was anticipated to be dismal.

With the Marlins following their remarkable nine-game winning streak with two losses to the Philadelphia Phillies in front of two of the larger home crowds of the season last weekend, I wondered whether crowds have anything to do with the outcome. After all, the Marlins rarely play to large crowds at home.

I checked the team’s home record for games before crowds of at least 25,000. Of the dozen games that met that mark, seven were losses, including Opening Day and the final two home games of the season, compared with five wins.

If you lower the measure to the 18 with crowds of at least 20,000, the team’s at .500 (9-9). So maybe the big crowds aren’t the problem, since the team's home record is 45-36 (or nine more wins than losses).

Your thoughts? Have you purchased your season tickets for next year? Do you plan to buy season tickets or go to a few games next season? Read more about the Marlins in our Marlins blog.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193)

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September 23, 2008

Giant jerseys help make a statement

heat%40macys23.jpgWhen the Orlando Magic unveiled its new jerseys this afternoon it had some big help. Really, really big help: A 15-foot tall inflatable jersey that measures 22 feet from cuff to cuff.

The giant jerseys, billed as the “world’s largest jersey,” are the work of Action Sports America, a company that started 14 years ago and has made the giant jerseys for the past decade. They’re used to promote new teams, new uniforms, big events, college football games, says company founder Doug Verb.

They’re hand-sewn, hand-painted and cost $6,500 to $7,500. They’ve even been made to fit over statues, like the Flyers jersey that covered the statue of William Penn atop Philadelphia City Hall. Verb says he’s up to 237 different jerseys. panthfront.jpg

South Florida sports fans have probably seen the company’s handiwork at the Panthers or when the Heat won the NBA Championship in 2006. Or perhaps at Zo’s Summer Groove.

This afternoon, a giant Magic jersey stood outside the Cheyenne Saloon, where the new 20th anniversary uniforms were unveiled inside.

Action Sports America is also responsible for the hot dog launcher and inflatable Big Balls that mascots can get inside for promotional events and, of course, human bowling.

POSTED IN: Apparel (55), Florida Panthers (108), Miami Heat (174), NBA (139), Promotions (120)

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September 22, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. M3

File this under: Nothing is ever simple when it comes to the ballpark.

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jeri Beth Cohen was all ready to slam the door on auto dealer Norman Braman’s case this afternoon, but we’ll have to wait until Oct. 2 for her final ruling.

That’s because the re-hearing period for the Florida Supreme Court ruling issued last week (the one Cohen was waiting for before deciding in Braman’s case if a referendum is needed on a portion of the financing for the $3 billion in Miami projects) doesn’t expire until then. Braman’s attorney Bob Martinez convinced Cohen to wait, saying he wants time to study the ruling and protect his client’s interest.

But that wasn’t before Marlins attorney Sandy Bohrer raised a fuss about any more delays.

“The time for the final ruling has come,” Bohrer told the court. “It’s over. The Supreme Court has ruled.”

But Cohen wasn’t having any of Bohrer’s arguments. She clearly wants to follow the Supreme Court, which after a re-hearing reversed its own opinion from a year ago and said referendums are not required to issue bonds for large public projects.

“I think the Supreme Court has pretty much spoken to us,” Cohen said.

Although she said she “will be absolutely shocked” if the state’s high court decides to re-hear the case a second time, she also didn’t see any harm in waiting.

“What’s the difference if I enter it today or on Oct. 2?” Cohen asked Bohrer. “I’m not going to change my mind.”

Cohen reminded the court that the Marlins, Miami-Dade County and city of Miami are already working on final agreements for the ballpark’s construction.

She also cautioned Martinez about appealing the referendum count.

“You can only appeal where the law’s not clear,” she said. “The law is very clear.”

After the hearing, Martinez said since the Supreme Court opinion isn’t final until the re-hearing period has expired, he wants time to review it.

“The fact of the matter is we are going to be appealing,” Martinez said. “The fact that the defendants think we’re going to lose, they’ve articulated that. They’ve said as recently as two weeks ago, they’re going to move forward. Let them move forward. They have to deal with the reality we’re going to appeal.”

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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September 21, 2008

Banking on BankAtlantic Center

Lobby-Vision2.jpgWith the re-tooled Panthers now in training camp, it seems fitting to check in on upgrades at their Sunrise home.

BankAtlantic Center turns 10 next month and to keep it up-to-date, it is undergoing upgrades costing $4.5 million to $5 million.

When fans arrive for the Panthers home opener Oct. 11, they’ll be treated to a brand new sound system. Suite holders will find new flat-screen TVs and refrigerators. The suites’ carpeting was replaced last summer.

The first half of November will usher in “lobby vision” – two high resolution video boards inside the main entrance (see photo) that will show video, naturally, and have space for sponsor advertising, and public service and player messages.

“Lobby vision will probably be something most people have never seen before,” said Michael Yormark, president of the Panthers and their operator, Sunrise Sports & Entertainment.

By late December or early January, two Las Vegas-style marquees are to be installed outside the arena. One measuring 53 feet will overlook the Sawgrass Expressway; a 37-foot one will be placed at the entrance to Gate 5.

“October is the 10th anniversary of the building. We’re continuing the make improvements to maintain a state-of-the-art facility,” Yormark said.

The renovations are being made with the help of the arena’s owner, Broward County, which agreed in 2006 to loan Sunrise Sports & Entertianment $9.5 million. Yormark said SSE put off the renovations until now.

POSTED IN: Florida Panthers (108)

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September 18, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 335i

The Marlins weren’t commenting today, but you know they have to pleased the Florida Supreme Court revised its opinion in the Strand v. Escambia County case from a year ago and ruled that bonds could be issued on large public works projects without a public referendum. Read the ruling here.

Not that the Marlins, Miami-Dade County or the city of Miami ever thought a public vote was necessary for the $515 million ballpark project, despite auto dealer Norman Braman’s contention in his lawsuit that all the projects included in the $3 billion Miami mega-plan should be subject to a vote. The ballpark does not rely on property tax dollars, but the mega-plan, which includes the port tunnel and performing arts center debt, links it to projects that do.

That’s what Braman refers to as a “shell game” – the plan to expand Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs) to generate millions of property tax dollars -- meant for poor neighborhoods -- to pay debt on the arts center, to free up hotel bed tax dollars to use on other projects, such as the ballpark. Braman is adamant the public deserves the right to vote on the projects.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen put off ruling on the final count in Braman’s lawsuit – whether a public vote was needed on a portion of the financing for the mega-plan – while she awaited the Supreme Court’s decision in the Strand case. It isn’t clear when she will rule, but she has scheduled a hearing for Monday.

City and county officials couldn’t have been happier with the news from Tallahassee, which they say reinstates their ability to use CRA dollars to improve impoverished neighborhoods.

“I’m very happy because of the Supreme Court ruling that was issued today, however, like we’ve said all along that decision really had nothing to do with the funding for the stadium, but it certainly had a lot to do with utilizing monies to incur the debt on performing arts center,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez said.

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said the Supreme Court could have prevented municipalities from carrying out important projects.

“It’s not just about the stadium,” Diaz said. “It’s about building affordable housing and infrastructure and fixing up the parks in the area, building streets and sidewalks and flood mitigation, job creation-type projects. That’s the best shot you have to redevelop and revitalize an area that’s been underserved.

“It’s very exciting,” he continued. “I thought if the ruling had gone the other way, it would have effectively eliminated this tool … to help communities do these type of projects.”

Braman, however, wasn’t so giddy. He said his legal team is studying the ruling and he vowed, again, to fight on.

“We’re going to be moving ahead on an appellate basis on all the other counts,” said Braman, who appears on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans for the first time this year. “We would have liked to see it go the other way.”

The court’s 4-2 opinion included the dissenting opinion of Justice R. Fred Lewis, who used an interesting choice of words that echo Braman: “The local-government shell game, which is played to avoid the Florida voter, should not be sanctioned by this tribunal.”

Meanwhile, city and county officials hope to be able to present definitive construction management, financing and other agreements spelling out the details of the ballpark’s construction to their respective commissions next month.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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The ‘Heat Experience’ in the office

heatofc.jpgThe Heat could be invading an office near you.

The Heat Experience, anyway. That means Burnie the Heat mascot; the Heat Dancers, members of the Xtreme Team; the 2006 NBA Championship Trophy; the team’s Fireball Express – the firetruck that contains baskets, water cannons and a stereo system; Heat flags; noisemakers; and air fresheners.

And of course, sales representatives with information about purchasing season tickets and mini-plans.

Dubbed “office takeovers,” the idea of the lunchtime invasion is to get fans and potential ticket buyers excited about the Heat’s upcoming season. After going 15-67 last year, the team is employing grass-roots approaches to marketing and ticket sales.

The “Heat Experience” has already stopped at offices on Brickell and Biscayne Boulevard in Miami and has plans to make more stops at the Suntrust Building, the Bank of America Tower and the Wachovia Tower in the coming weeks. Check out this photo from One Biscayne Tower earlier this month.

The Heat gang made its first stop in Broward today, showing up at New River Center, which just happens to be the home of the Sun Sentinel. The hip hop music was so loud it could be heard several floors above the lobby and Heat dancers signed autographs on posters of last year’s dance squad. Sales representatives handed out ticket brochures and implored office workers to take noisemakers, only if they planned to attend games.

“We’re trying to get people excited for the season. We know last season wasn’t the best, but Dwyane Wade is healthy,” said Chris Cordero, a Heat account manager. “Everybody is always excited. People want to come out and see the trophy. People don’t believe it’s real.”

Heat representatives said the efforts have been successful in securing sales leads on potential ticket buyers.

“The whole purpose of this is to bring the Heat Experience out of the arena,” said Joshua Goshin, Heat marketing event coordinator.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174), Promotions (120), Tickets (126)

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Forbes 400: our team owners and a newcomer to the list

So, billionaires aren’t doing any better in these difficult financial times than we are, according to Forbes, which released its list of 400 richest Americans today.

According to the Forbes report, “The rich haven’t gotten richer – or poorer – this year.” The report goes on to explain that it still takes $1.3 billion – just as it did last year - to be included in the list and the total net worth of the list members grew $30 billion or just 2 percent since last year.

Checking in on our local sports team owners:

Heat owner Micky Arison’s net worth dropped from $5.8 billion in 2007 to $5 billion this year and from 55th to 68th on the list.

Dolphins Managing General Partner H. Wayne Huizenga also saw his worth drop from $2.5 billion and 165th place to $2.2 billion and 205th on the list.

The fortune of new Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who bought 50 percent of the Dolphins, of Dolphin Stadium and of the land surrounding it from Huizenga for $550 million earlier this year, remained steady at $4.5 billion. But Ross’ spot on the list dropped from 68th in 2007 to 78th this year.

New to the list this year? Norman Braman, the former Philadelphia Eagles owner and Miami auto dealer who has been a thorn in the Marlins’ effort to build a new ballpark since he challenged in court the financing of $3 billion in Miami projects, including the stadium. Forbes says the “swelling contemporary art market” pushed Braman onto the list this year. His net worth is listed at $1.7 billion and he ranks 281 on the list.

Braman didn’t sound too pleased with his inclusion on the list.

“It’s something I would prefer not to see,” he said Thursday afternoon. “I knew about it before. I wasn’t happy, it is what it is.”

Bill Gates still tops the list with a net worth of $57 billion, but even that’s down from $59 billion last year.

POSTED IN: Sports Team Owners (49)

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September 17, 2008

D Wade and Goldfish promote kids fitness

Heat guard Dwyane Wade is continuing his partnership with Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers with new commercials, games and activities that encourage kids' fitness. The official launch of Goldfish Games will come Thursday at the NBA Store in Manhattan, but you can check out the program and the TV spots -- airing on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and other kid-focused networks -- at

The 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist will lead Jr. NBA and Jr. NBA teams in a clinic of Goldfish games and kids' activities all aimed at promoting fitness. Goldfish Games includes a variety of games and activities to encourage kids to be active. The Goldfish Games Xtreme Challenge, starting on Oct. 1, is a contest in which kids will be asked to create their own games for a shot at attending the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix and a $1000 grand prize.

“As both a professional athlete and the father of two young children, I know firsthand the importance of teaching our children the significance of a healthy lifestyle, so they have the tools and knowledge to make good choices about nutrition and fitness,” Wade said in a statement.

With the launch of Goldfish Games, Pepperidge Farm has also released two new Goldfish cracker flavors -- Monstrous Mozzarella Stick and Racing Ranch -- which are already in stores.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174), Promotions (120), Sponsorship (101)

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September 16, 2008

Seniors dance across the NBA

The Heat is holding auditions for its beloved Golden Oldies senior dance team on Friday. You must be "at least 60-years young” to try out for the 2008-09 squad.

Typically this item would go unnoticed, but another NBA team’s audition release popped into my email this afternoon: The New Jersey Nets will hold auditions Sept. 25 for this season’s NETSational Seniors dance team.

And that got me wondering about the popularity of these teams. The Heat was the NBA’s first team with a senior dance squad. The Golden Oldies first performed in the 2004-05 season and will mark their fifth season this year. The co-ed troupe of energetic seniors performed at the NBA All-Star Game in Houston in 2006.

Nets owner Bruce Ratner happened to see the Golden Oldies perform at a Heat-Nets game in Miami a few years ago and asked Nets CEO Brett Yormark to look into creating a Nets senior dance team, Nets spokesman Barry Baum said.

And yes, the NBA encourages teams to share their “best practices” across the league.

The NETSational team launched in 2006-07 and has attracted national attention on television's Good Morning America and Today show and documentary filmmaker Dori Berinstein followed the squad for a year and made it the subject of her film, Gotta Dance.

If you’re interested, the Golden Oldies auditions are scheduled at noon Sept. 19 at SW Focal Point Senior Center, 301 NW 103rd Ave., Pembroke Pines.

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174), NBA (139)

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September 15, 2008

NFL team values continue to rise

Forbes released its annual list of NFL team values last week and it shows, as you might have expected, that football teams continue to retain their value. And those values continue to rise.

So much so that the average value for an NFL team is now $1 billion -- a dramatic 19 of 32 teams are valued at more than $1 billion – up from just five in 2007.

The Dallas Cowboys maintained the top spot, valued at $1.6 billion up 7 percent from $1.5 billion in 2007. The rest of the top five are the Washington Redskins ($1.54 billion); New England Patriots ($1.3 billion); Super Bowl Champion New York Giants ($1.2 billion); and New York Jets ($1.2 billion).

The Dolphins rank 13th at $1.04 billion up from 15th and $942 million in 2007. You may recall, Stephen Ross paid $550 million earlier this year for half of the team, of Dolphin Stadium and of the developable land around it.

Sports investment experts say teams are worth what people are willing to pay for them. CNBC Sports Business reporter Darren Rovell breaks down why he thinks NFL teams aren't quite as valuable as Forbes figures.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186), NFL (178)

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September 9, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. 0-60

The Marlins scored a huge victory Tuesday when Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen ruled their ballpark serves a “paramount public purpose” – meaning public dollars can be used to help build it.

The team, Miami-Dade County and city of Miami believe the ruling in the case filed by auto dealer Norman Braman targeting the financing for $3 billion in Miami projects, including the ballpark, means they can move ahead with their plans for the $515 million stadium at the site of the former Orange Bowl.

They plan to step up negotiations of definitive construction, financing and other documents so they can bring them to city and county commissioners in the coming weeks. And the team says it will finally be able to share new renderings of the ballpark soon.

“We welcome Judge Cohen’s ruling, which confirms that our elected officials have made the right decision for the future of our community. It is unfortunate that so much time and so much of the public’s money has been wasted in this legal process,” Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said in a statement. “This is a critical step in securing the long-term future of Major League Baseball in Miami. We will proceed immediately to finalize discussions with the County and the City to put in place all the long-awaited final agreements.”

Interestingly, Cohen's ruling indicated that she understood the ballpark issue is "contentious and emotional," but acknowledged it was the court's role to apply the law, not sentiment.

"While the Court agrees with Plaintiff that the Marlins are getting what amounts to a “sweet deal,” this is, put bluntly, not the business of this Court," Cohen wrote in her 41-page ruling. Read the ruling here.

The team would like to begin construction by year’s end and open the 37,000-seat retractable roof ballpark in 2011. That time frame is getting exceedingly unlikely, but hasn’t been written off yet.

“Our plan is to recommend to the board that we proceed as we’ve always intended,” Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess said. “We’re happy about the project … We’re committed to a project and if you’re confident in your position, why would you stop?”

Braman, however, plans to continue his legal fight, taking his case to appellate court.

“We’re disappointed in the judge’s ruling, but not that surprised by it,” Braman said. “We’re going to be appealing the judge’s decision, we’re optimistic we’re going to prevail on appeal. This is the first round of a fight, that we expected would last beyond the lower court.”

Braman said he will take the case to appellate court and even as far as the Florida Supreme Court, if necessary.

He also quoted Winston Churchill as saying “Never, never, never, never, never, never surrender your principles. Fight on.”

Besides, he said, “This is the end of the third inning of a nine-inning game. It’s got six more innings to go.”

Among the items Braman is referring to is the one remaining count in his case on which Cohen has yet to rule: whether a portion of the financing for the $3 billion in city projects must go to a vote of the public.

Cohen said she will not rule until after Sept. 15, as she is waiting for the Florida Supreme Court to rule on similar cases.

But the team, city and county say that ruling is immaterial to the ballpark since the financing for the venue does not rely on property taxes.

Braman, however, disagrees. He believes the entire financing package for the Miami projects must go to public referendum.

Burgess and Marlins President David Samson say the referendum question is unrelated to the ballpark.

“All I can say is he can avail himself of whatever legal process is his right,” Samson said. “As far as we’re concerned this is the right result. We’re very confident it will be upheld at any and all appellate levels.”

Braman was not shocked to learn the team plans to move forward.

“There’s nothing here that surprises me,” Braman said. “They still have to get bonding. If they get someone silly enough to get them bonding, if they’re willing to take that risk, that’s their problem, not mine.”

POSTED IN: Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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September 4, 2008

Marlins Stadium Update No. X6

A tiny update: Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen told attorneys involved in the case filed by auto dealer Norman Braman on Thursday that she plans to rule next week on whether a ballpark for the Marlins serves a “paramount public purpose.”

That’s the count the Marlins, Miami-Dade County and city of Miami are most concerned about because it determines whether public money can be put toward the stadium. The $515 million ballpark planned for the site of the former Orange Bowl relies on $360 million in public dollars derived from tourist tax dollars and a $50 million general obligation bond voters approved to renovate the OB, but since moved to the ballpark project.

The Marlins hope to break ground for the new ballpark by year’s end so they can open the new venue by 2011 – a date that’s looking increasingly unlikely. Cohen also must rule on whether part of the financing going to $3 billion worth of Miami projects must be subject to a public vote. The Marlins, county and city believe if Cohen rules in favor of a referendum, the ballpark would be exempt from a public vote, but Braman disagrees.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193), Marlins Stadium Updates (112)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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