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Marlins Stadium Update No. Scene 1


Project: Marlins new ballpark
Director: Jeffrey Loria
Dir. Of Photog: David Samson
Date: July 1, 2009
Scene: 1; Take 1 (aka 7 billion)

Work finally began at the site of the new Marlins ballpark in Little Havana today. Workers began moving the dirt, grading the site where the Orange Bowl once stood. Marlins President David Samson called it essentially flattening the ground. (See photo by the Marlins' Robert Vigon below).

Workers arrived at the site at 7 a.m., just hours after Miami-Dade County Commissioners took the final votes (9-3) needed to ensure the sale of the bonds to pay for construction so the project could move forward. That almost didn’t happen. The deal was almost derailed again late Tuesday, when County Manager George Burgess told commissioners the county had fallen about $6.2 million short in its effort to sell the bonds.

Neither the county nor the city would agree to put any more money into the deal to build a $515 million, retractable roof stadium. The Marlins said they’d cover the gap, but some commissioners worried about the county’s liability, changing the deal again and why, if the team was willing to give more in the final hour, the county hadn’t extracted more from the team in the deal.

Team and county officials worked into Wednesday morning to craft changes to the deal that would incorporate the team’s agreement to cover the gap and allow the county to sell some of the bonds at a higher interest rate than anticipated. The commission voted at 1:10 a.m. The changes are to go to the city of Miami or approval, but the county ensured the project could still go forward, even if the city rejects them.

"If last night had not worked out and there had been a termination, that would have been the end of baseball in South Florida,” Samson said. “What we decided as a team was that it was enough. It was time to start.”

Unless the bond sales do not close – something Samson doesn’t anticipate – the project is to move forward with an official, ceremonial ground-breaking scheduled on July 18. Samson said “There are no hurdles.”

Burgess said the bonds were sold Wednesday afternoon with a closing date later this month.

The Marlins have been trying for years to secure financing to build a new ballpark with a roof so they can protect fans from heat and rain and control their own revenue. At Land Shark Stadium, the team pays rent and receives only percentages of revenue from concessions, parking and advertising signage.

Burgess said he was feeling “very good” about the state of the project.

“Projects like this that are this large and complex, I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered one of these kinds of game changers that can have an impact and found it to be easy,” Burgess said. “The North Terminal [of the airport] has not been easy, but it has an enormously significant effect. In the long run it helps define a community … We’re going to look back and this [ballpark] is going to be a wonderful addition to this community.”

Categories: 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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