Since there hasn’t been much to say about the Marlins ballpark project lately, I figured I’d tell you very little about the baseball academy planned for Hialeah.
Miami-Dade County’s Airport and Tourism Committee gave unanimous and “unequivocal” support today to Major League Baseball’s planned youth baseball academy in Hialeah. That was the bone MLB threw the city earlier this year as thanks for trying to develop a Marlins ballpark in a far western swath of the city. After months of discussion and examination in 2006, the idea of amassing the land there was deemed too cumbersome and expensive and talks with the city of Miami were renewed. But MLB made sure Hialeah got something from the Marlins ballpark plan.
In fact, even if the $515 million Marlins ballpark is never built at the site of the former Orange Bowl – as is planned – the youth baseball academy in Hialeah will still go forward, officials say. Construction on the 20-acre complex that is to include seven baseball fields, batting cages, clubhouse, training facility and office space, is expected to begin next year. The complex is planned for children as young as 5 through high school.
Commissioner Rebeca Sosa stressed that she’d like to see more academies developed. Commissioner Sally Heyman wanted to make sure the academy can progress even if the stadium doesn’t.
In a separate item today, commissioners were told by a representative of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau that after record years of hotel bed tax collections, next year’s figures are expected to be down slightly. Hotel bed tax is the main source of public money being used for the ballpark. Commissioners were told two-thirds of hotel officials surveyed said they plan to adjust room rates to ensure tourists keep visiting, even in tough economic times.
Behind the scenes, agreements spelling out the financing, construction and other details of the ballpark are said to be near completion. Miami city and county officials hope to bring them before city and county commissioners for a vote in January.