Wednesday January 10, 2007

Here we go again with the Marlins stadium

The Miami Orange Bowl 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.

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  1. Dirk Diggler    Wed Jan 10, 11:04 PM #  

    Taking taxpayer money, which means using CRA money, to give to the super rich businessman who currently owns the Florida Marlins baseball team is stupid. Any idea how much it costs to rent a sky box? Any idea how much it takes a family of four to attend a baseball game? Think any Overtown or Park West homeowners can afford it? Let private sports team owners finance their own stadiums. Economic studies show sports teams have a negative financial impact on communities. Have not Overtown and Park West been abused enough?

    And that idiot Spence-Jones? The CRA Chairwoman? She has no comment? I guess she had not received her position from Manny Diaz yet.



  2. Jonathan    Wed Jan 10, 11:58 PM #  

    This is business, right? I think the City of Miami should sell land to the Marlins at a high price, then use the profits to give property tax refunds or retire some of the debt they’ve burdened city residents with over the past few years. That would be fair.



  3. Downtown Optimist    Thu Jan 11, 07:27 PM #  

    Jonathan has great suggestions. Unfortunately Manny Diaz and his lackeys love to give away our tax dollars and they even love to give away our waterfront park land.

    The various Marlins owners have always stated they want land for free, they want numerous tax breaks and they ask for other incentives.

    Wouldn’t it be great to have over 300 businesses on that land instead of one business which is only open 80 nights a year? And that one business has not one employee who lives within the City of Miami.



  4. J Hayek    Fri Jan 12, 10:51 AM #  

    I vote to see 300 businesses on that site. The 300 businesses could be open 360 days a year, not 80 nights. And the 300 businesses could all be taxpaying employee hiring year round credits to our community.

    Who works for the Marlins? A few multi-millionaires who live and pay taxes in Broward County? And many minimum wage part-time concession stand type people. I vote for real full-time companies with real full-time employees.



  5. Vincent Garcetti    Sat Jan 13, 03:34 PM #  

    What is the deal with Manny “I love concrete” Diaz? Why is he so desperate to give away our tax dollars to multi-millionaire athletes? To out of town business owners? Did he get picked last on the school yard? Does he love hanging out in locker rooms? Is he expecting another middle of the night $55,000 bonus?

    Private business owners, even if they own baseball teams, should pay for their own property.