Vote No, Miami-Dade

Stadium giveaways to billionaires are foolish even in the best of times, but they are even harder to take in the worst. Now comes an analysis from the Miami Herald showing that the Marlins deal — due for a vote on Friday — is even more generous than your typical ballpark boondoggle:

The Florida Marlins stadium deal coming up for final showdown votes Friday — where the public would foot 70 percent of the construction bill and share none of the revenue — would be among the more generous to a team owner this decade, a Miami Herald analysis found.

Fourteen Major League stadiums have been built, or begun, since 2000. The average public contribution for construction of those stadiums has been 44 percent, the newspaper found.

Under the proposed Miami deal, the Marlins would rank ninth of the 14 in the percentage of construction costs borne by the team, the newspaper found.

”It’s probably not the best deal that has ever been worked out between a community and a team,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez said after his State of the County speech on Tuesday.

But he insisted it’s better than most and comes at a time the region is thirsting for a public works jolt, adding: “At some point, negotiations have to stop.”

The public works argument is the only argument in the stadium’s favor, but I have to ask: what’s the state of Miami’s water lines? Its sewers? Its rail lines? Its roads? This ballpark is certainly not the best use of public funds in general, but even if you set aside the fact that it will primarily enrich Jeff Loria and serve a mostly well-off clientele, is this ballpark the best use of public works dollars?

By the way, there’s a great quote in this article as well. It comes from the Giants’ former owner Peter Magowan, a man I have often praised for building his team’s stadium with private dollars. What I often forget to mention is that he tried really hard to get the public to pay first. His thoughts on the matter today, even after he built a jewel of a park that has done very well for his team’s bottom line:

‘We really would have preferred if the public had taken the risk instead of us.”

That’s what it’s all about for these guys: putting the risk on others and keeping all of the benefits for themselves. We normally excoriate people who do this, but for some reason, baseball owners get a free pass from government officials, most of the media, and most of the public at large.

I simply don’t get it.


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themarksmith
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themarksmith

Hatred for government >> Hatred for owner of favorite team.

We like to hate on the government because, well, it’s the government and it isn’t perfect. We like the owner of our favorite team because, well, they’re the owner of our favorite team or part of our favorite sport. Government is associated with politics and people yelling and not getting anything done. Baseball is associated with fun and entertainment.

I’m not saying this a logical way of looking at things, but people generally aren’t rational. When it comes to the showdown, baseball wins, even if it doesn’t make much sense.

Pete Toms
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Pete Toms
Will this be the first ballpark project to fail?  A lot has changed these past several months.  It ain’t ok anymore to be wealthy and lookin for public dough.  (An aside, A Rod picked the wrong time to be wealthy, priveleged and dishonest – the guy just never gets it right) Practically every owner in MLB has some HOK digs built with largely or entirely public dough.  The local politicians were cool with that (they spit up the money) and the local media were largely ok with it too.  But not anymore….folks are pissed and the pols and the press… Read more »
Chris Simonds
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Chris Simonds

“putting the risk on others and keeping all of the benefits for themselves”

it ain’t just ballpark owners. whaddya think investment banks have been doing the last 8 – 10 years? this is what Big Business has always wanted to do.

Tony Antonielli
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Tony Antonielli

I live in South Florida, and this kind of silliness makes my eyes cross at the best of times, nevermind that this particular indiscretion comes during the worst economic downturn in most memories.  I keep telling myself, “Hey, it’s Dade, and you live in Broward, relax!”, but, somehow, I just know this is gonna’ bite me in the ass almost as bad as if I lived in Miami…

Pete Toms
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Pete Toms

@ Tony.  As you know, inevitably these projects cost way more than initially projected.  (and I know, the Marlins have agreed to pay for overruns, but the devil is in the detail)  For starters, bet your *** that the financing is gonna cost WAY more than has been projected.

Rob
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Rob

Don’t you all get it?!?  They might MOVE!!!!!!

Chris H.
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Chris H.

Rob jokes, but that really is the central issue.

People forgive the team owners because, quite frankly, the teams have city names (mostly) as part of the team names.  Consequently, the local teams become part of the local identity, and thus local residents behave quite irrationally.

APBA Guy
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APBA Guy

It really is the same motivation for today’s politicians that drove the Roman emperors to spend money on Games. The people love their entertainment especially if the ticket price is low. Hide the entertainment cost in the form of taxes. Don’t explain that the new stadium will deprive the county of 100 additional police officers, etc, in perpetuity and you too can get re-elected.

Jorge Costales
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Jorge Costales
I suspect that this will not change minds, but the type of public funds to be used for the stadium are tourist-based taxes and are specifically designated for entertainment related purposes. So the stadium is competing with arts and convention centers, not the type of infrastructure improvements you note or the police services noted in the comments. In fact, today’s Miami Herald editorial endorsed the stadium deal. Further, I won’t bore you here [I intend to bore you with other points], but in my blog I point out how favorably the stadium deal looks in comparison to other smaller market… Read more »
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