It took some time and after some arm twisting, debate that lasted longer than most dates I've had in high school but it appears that the Florida Marlins are going to start turning some dirt for their new ballpark. The new ballparrk will be located where the Orange Bowl currently stands and will be a 37,000-seat facility in Miami's Little Havana, a neighborhood long targeted for economic revitalization. It will have a retractable roof, something that is needed in south Florida, especially around 4:30 in the afternoon, when the rain showers show up. This could very well mean jobs for the community as a whole. After so many years of being almost forced to share digs with three football teams, U of Miami, the Dolphins and Florida Atlantic, the Fish may have their own bowl to swim in.
The Baseball Stadium Agreement passed 4-1, after some fine tuning with legalistics and some four hours later, the Miami-Dade County Commission approved the measure by a 9-3 vote.
Legal language aside, this took some time. Now it's time for the Florida Legislature to step up to the plate. Still, it's a great day for the Marlins, who will change the name of the team to the Miami Marlins once they move into the new facility in 2011.
The county would pay $347 million in stadium construction costs, mostly from tourism taxes. The Marlins would pay $155 million, some through a $2.3 million annual rent bill, plus agree to buy 5,750 parking spots from the city for 35 seasons — essentially paying off the garage-building cost and the Marlins would keep the stadium revenues.
Talk about moving the team to either San Antonio or Las Vegas have been put to rest for now. They (hopefully) will wait their turn for expansion when that time comes. The Marlins need their own space. They will have to vacate in 2010. Getting this built is a must not only for the city of Miami but for Major League Baseball.
Build it. They will come.