If you’ve been paying any attention to the Florida Marlins ballpark financing saga, the HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel feature on the subject doesn’t break any new ground.
What it does is put what’s been referred to as “Profit-gate” squarely into the ballpark financing debate. The ballpark may be nearly half-finished – media got a tour of the construction site Tuesday (check out a video here) – but some are still stinging from Miami-Dade County’s and the city of Miami’s decision to put $361 million into the $515 million ballpark, while the team was making a profit.
Documents released in August by Deadspin.com detailing the finances of the Marlins and a handful of other teams show the Marlins had net operating income of nearly $50 million combined for the years 2008 and 2009. Real Sports uses the documents as a way to examine whether the ballpark deal was a fair one for the community.
The piece could easily be used as a campaign advertisement for auto magnate Norman Braman’s campaign to recall Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who declined to be interviewed for the show. Braman appears but both Alvarez and County Manager George Burgess, who also declined an interview, are both shown in clips from Braman’s trial targeting the financing for the ballpark among other county projects, saying they’d never asked to see the team’s financial books.
County Commissioners Carlos Gimenez (whose office sent out the below clip from the show) and Sally Heyman are interviewed about their concerns that county staff did not push hard to find out if the team could afford to put more dollars into the deal. County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, among the team’s staunchest supporters when the ballpark deal was approved, says she feels she was misled during the process.
Marlins President David Samson suggests Sosa is planning to run for county mayor and wants to use her questioning of the deal now to appeal to constituents. MLB President Bob DuPuy defends the deal as being good for the community.
The show, which also includes a touching piece on Marc Buoniconti 25 years since he was paralyzed on the football field, airs at 10 p.m. tonight.