An investigative report by BallparkBob.
Marlins New Stadium Rapes Miami Residents
On my recent visit to the Orange Bowl, I had a chance to visit the new Miami Marlins stadium. We’ve written before about the new uniforms that the Marlins will be wearing and the cool fish tanks that will be behind home plate in the new stadium in Miami. So, it was only fitting during my recent stay in Miami that I visited the site of the new stadium in the Little Havana section of Miami.
I must admit, however, that I have a concern about the long-term viability of the new Miami stadium. It is in a largely Hispanic section of Miami and surrounded by mostly rental properties. Many of the properties that I saw had vacancy signs outside so it’s not like even renters are anxious to be nearby the old Orange Bowl site on which the new ballpark was built. It clearly wasn’t the best place to build a stadium and maintenance of the Orange Bowl was draining the city coffers, but after years of wrangling it was an available piece of property just two miles from the city center that was actually big enough to build a modern ballpark on. Even a ballpark that has been described as a giant can opener or the biggest bicycle helmet in the world!
2 Hours to Get out of the Parking Lot?
Parking is another concern. While there are four large parking garages on either side of the stadium, the roads surrounding the stadium are simply two lane city streets. Can you imagine the delay in getting out of those parking garages even with only 37,000 fans (the capacity) attending the games?
Season ticket holders will also get a parking pass in one of the Marlins’s lots; lots that are yet another profit center for the ballclub. The city of Miami has guaranteed that the 5,700 capacity parking lots can be emptied out in 45 minutes. But, local resident Jose Gonzalez didn’t think so and he’s quite happy about it. You see, Gonzalez plans on parking 35 cars on his corner lot at $30 a pop. Multiply that times 81 games and Gonzalez stands to net $85,050 from his now very valuable piece of property.
“You are not going to park on the top floors,” Gonzalez said. “When it comes to getting out, you are going to be stuck there one or two hours.”
Makes you wonder how many fans are going to be there to watch Heath Bell close out the game.
If you Build it, Will they Come?
From everything I’ve read, new Marlins stadium is going to be a unique and wonderful place to see a baseball game. In fact, if you aren’t sure, check out the official Marlins webcam to see for yourself.
But, Major League Baseball today relies on corporates sponsors and luxury suite sales to make a profit and pay off those big salaries of Hanley Ramirez, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes. Will the baseball fans in the wealthy suburbs make the trek to Little Havana and fight the traffic and the scarce parking to witness a game?
The fans will, at least for a while. Seats behind home plate at $395 per game, have sold out.
But, the political repercussions of the new Marlins stadium are monumental. Mayor Carlos Alvarez was recalled by the voters mostly because of the horrible deal that he cut with the Marlins. A whopping 89% voted to oust Alvarez. In a time of economic depression, Alvarez made the deal to allow the citizens of Miami to put up 80% of the money required for the new Marlins stadium. All the while, Alvarez was driving around in a new BMW that the citizens of Miami purchased for him.
Now, the Securities and Exchange Commission is involved wondering if there was some payola coming out of the Marlins in their dealings with the City of Miami. The fact that the city accepted an 80% cost without even seeing the books for the Marlins has to make you wonder if something smells as fishy as a Miami tuna boat.
Of course, the Marlins did a great job in crying poverty that many locals actually believed. That is, until Deadspin got a hold of the Marlins financials and printed them for all the world to see that while the Marlins were crying poverty and keeping one of the lowest payrolls in MLB, they actually earned $48.9 million in profits in 2009-2010. That Jeff Luria is some businessman threatening to move the Marlins to Portland or San Antonio if he didn’t get his precious stadium financed by the city with all stadium revenue, including the eventual stadium naming rights, coming back to the Marlins. In fact, if the stadium hosts a concert or a soccer game, you know who gets all the money? Right, Luria and the Marlins.
Nice work if you can get it.