BOB:  Marlins Stadium Approved

Marlins’ stadium deal approved, Rays’ deal making progress

The Florida Marlins got the two approvals they needed last Thursday and after years of setbacks, they finally have funding for a new stadium. Both the city of Miami and the Miami-Dade County Commission approved the stadium deal that would make the site of the Orange Bowl the Marlins’ new home. The stadium is expected to be ready for the 2011 opening day, which is just in time because the team’s current lease expires after the 2010 season.

The estimated cost of building the stadium will be $525 million. The county is putting in $347 million, which will mostly consist of money from a tourist tax. The Marlins will be on the hook for $155 million, of which $120 million will be in loans and another $35 million will be contributed by the county. The $35 million will then be repaid by the team through yearly $2.3 million rent payments. In addition, the city has agreed to pay $94 million for a 6,000 space parking lot at the site of the stadium.

As part of the agreement, the Marlins will change their name to the Miami Marlins and they won’t be allowed to relocate for 35 years. Groundbreaking is expected this November. Not everyone is happy with the deal. This South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist thinks the city and county could have gotten a better deal and the funds could have been better used elsewhere.

While Marlins ownership is throwing their celebration party, the Rays are just getting started on getting funding for their waterfront ballpark. They’ve already announced that they’d make their $150 million contribution up front as opposed to via rent payments, and public hearings have begun on both the pros and cons of building a new stadium are being considered.

World Baseball Classic’s field of 16 set for 2009

World Baseball Classic, Inc. announced the remaining eight teams for the 2009 tournament. The eight teams that made it to the second round in 2006 are all automatically in; joining those eight teams will be Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Italy, Netherlands, Panama and South Africa.

Plans on expanding the number of teams for the 2013 World Baseball Classic are already being considered. It appears the most popular plan would consist of preliminary qualifying rounds that would then determine the field of 16.

Orioles begin installation of new video board

Last month, the Orioles finished the demolition of their primary center field scoreboard, and now just last week, the team has begun the installation of the new scoreboard. The new board will not only be bigger, but it will be capable of providing high definition technology. A new right field scoreboard as well as new LED ribbon boards are also part of the entertainment system upgrade.

Cubs’ local viewers’ loss is team’s gain

In 2008, the Cubs will be televising fewer games on WGN than ever before. Only 70 games will be televised, eight fewer than last year; seven of those games are exhibition games. While local viewers who don’t have cable lose out, the team will end up making more money by putting more games on Comcast SportsNet, a regional sports network that’s partially owned by the team.

The Cubs fired back and said their 70 locally televised games is way more than most teams. Fans just feel that over time, games televised on WGN will be phased out completely and you’ll have to go to cable or satellite television in order to see the games.

Arbitrator removed from cable dispute

Jerome Sussman, an arbitrator in the cable television battle between Time Warner Cable and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, was recently removed from his post. Sussman had already agreed that Time Warner was discriminating against MASN, but there was some question as to whether he was partial or not. MASN felt Time Warner was discriminating against them because Time Warner would only carry MASN on their digital tier while Time Warner carried their own regional sports networks on both their digital and analog tiers.

MASN feels Sussman’s ruling is still binding but Time Warner feels otherwise. In MASN’s favor, the initial ruling hasn’t been overturned, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future. In the meantime, a new arbitrator will be chosen and the case will be pushed forward.

Congress has eye on Roger Clemens

It looks like Congress didn’t look too kindly on Roger Clemens’ testimony in front of a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing and that they’re now coordinating with the Department of Justice to begin a criminal investigation into whether Clemens perjured himself or not. While Clemens accused, Brian McNamee, hasn’t been named in the possible investigation, nothing is set in stone at this point. This one should be interesting as Clemens scrambles to keep his reputation intact.

Nationals look to local vendors for food service needs

The Washington Nationals announced that they have partnered with 11 local food vendors to provide food choices throughout the Nationals’ park’s concourse. The vendors will all have specialty carts/stands and the vendors will provide everything from chili to ice cream to pretzels when the new ballpark opens.

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