Field of Schemes
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April 30, 2004

Miami Herald needs help from Grover

Ladies and gentlemen, today's Miami Herald:

Headline:"Marlins deal puts ballpark in reach"

Within the article: "Marlin supporter and Hialeah Rep. Ralph Arza was more blunt. 'I think it's dead,' he said."

So, near or far, which is it? Nearer, certainly. With the state legislature set to adjourn its session tomorrow, both sides blinked: Dade County, which had previously pledged $73 million in hotel taxes, upped its offer to $120 million, including a "professional sports facilities franchise tax" (no, we're not sure what that is, either), while the city of Miami would kick in free land plus $28 million in tourist taxes. The Marlins, meanwhile, would increase their share to $157 million, most of it in rent payments, the rest in cash and a ticket surcharge.

The Marlins have set a $325 million price tag on their proposed retractable-roof stadium - dubious, since all but one flip-top stadium so far has broken $400 million, but the Marlins have agreed to pay all cost overruns, so far, at least - which leaves a $30 million financing gap. For that, the team is again turning to the state legislature, but both Senate President Jim King and House Speaker Johnnie Byrd have said they won't consider it this session, considering the budget is already done. Marlins president David Samson, who's spent the better part of the spring alluding darkly to the team leaving Florida if a stadium isn't approved, seemed unsure what to threaten yesterday, saying: "I don't want to talk about what happens if it doesn't come in, because there's a significant gap that has to be worked on before the construction can begin." Stay tuned.

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