Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez could have sidestepped any discussion of the Florida Marlins ballpark during this morning’s state of the county address.
After all, the $515 million ballpark, which is being financed with hundreds of millions in county hotel bed tax dollars, continues to be a controversial topic, even though construction at the former site of the Orange Bowl in Little Havana is more than 20 percent complete. Images of the ballpark construction were included in one of two videos shown during the mayor’s speech, but it wasn’t identified by name.
Alvarez didn’t shy away from the controversy.
“While we are on the subject of the local economy, let’s talk about something very near and dear to my heart, America’s pastime. Baseball,” Alvarez said and then paused for an almost uncomfortable few seconds in which some tittering could be heard in the packed commission chambers at the Stephen P. Clark Center.
“Last summer we broke ground on a new Marlins ballpark,” Alvarez said when he finally resumed his speech. “You don’t need a time lapse camera to see the progress, just look out your window the next time you’re riding along 836. The ballpark is over 20 percent complete. Columns and beams are going up at a lightning pace. The prospects of hosting a future All Star game are promising.
“Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, there’s no denying that the ballpark is creating jobs hundreds of them and just the kind of jobs we want, the local kind. More than 60 percent of workers on site live right here in Miami-Dade County. The Marlins are keeping their promises and we are making sure of it. It is an economic boost we need right now,” Alvarez said.
He then acknowledged: “I know there are naysayers and skeptics, but I firmly believe, that Major League Baseball promotes Major League communities.”
He mentioned the ballpark again during a rundown of buildings the county is developing that are classified as “green,” energy efficient projects.