Wednesday January 10, 2007
Oh my God, here we go again: Plans for a new Florida Marlins baseball stadium in Miami include the use of community redevelopment money. Let me quote the first few paragraphs:
The latest plan to build the cash-strapped Florida Marlins a new stadium in downtown Miami involves using millions of dollars of money meant to improve blighted neighborhoods.
It also calls for the city of Miami to deed property to Miami-Dade County so the Marlins — which would lease the stadium — could receive a tax break. And it requires money, once again, from the state Legislature.
“They’re looking at the Park West/Overtown CRA boundary that stops a block from where the site is,” said Miami-Dade tax collector Ian Yorty, the county’s point man for stadium negotiations. “The city has plans to expand the boundary.”
Money from a Community Redevelopment Agency, by law, must be used to spur economic development in “blighted” neighborhoods. Tax money created from a CRA stays inside the district.
Word of the new stadium plan infuriated some community members, such as Overtown’s Irby McKnight, who said the CRA has yet to build a single home in Overtown.
“I’m just looking at this in amazement,” he said. “We’ll remember this on Election Day.”
Miami Commissioner and CRA Chairwoman Michelle Spence-Jones declined to comment.
But Miami Mayor Manny Diaz described using CRA money to build a new ballpark as money well spent. He believes a baseball stadium would anchor redevelopment on the downtown’s western flank, much like the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, which receives $1.43 million yearly from the CRA, has spurred development on the city’s eastern edge.
I have to say that I share McKnight’s amazement. The nerve of these people — and then the head of the CRA has “no comment” when the newspaper asks her about it? How’s that for a big middle finger to the taxpayers?
Let’s review. Baseball is a business; the government has no more business supporting it then they do paying McDonalds to build restaurants. Plus, they’re cynically bending the whole point of the CRA by expanding the boundary to include their chosen site! And if we didn’t have ample local proof that sports stadiums in fact don’t “anchor redevelopment” for jack shit (Hello Miami Arena? And the Orange Bowl was built in the 1940’s . . . last time I drove by it was located in a nice quiet residential neighborhood?), we could turn to the research, which shows overwhelmingly that government spending on stadiums is a big waste of money.comments powered by Disqus