Field of Schemes
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January 28, 2008

Opposition mounts to Marlins stadium plan

South Florida Sun-Sentinel sports business writer Sarah Talalay blogs today about the outlook for the proposed Florida Marlins stadium in the wake of car dealer (and former Philadelphia Eagles owner) Norman Braman's lawsuit against the deal. Braman's suit, writes Talalay, challenges three separate aspects of the complex funding plan:

  • Taking $50 million in funding that voters approved for renovating the Orange Bowl and shifting it towards construction of a new stadium, it says, is unconstitutional.
  • Changing the funding source for repaying bonds on the existing performing arts center (Community Redevelopment Agency funds would be used for the arts center bonds, freeing up tourist tax money to go towards the stadium) is a breach of contract with bondholders, says Braman, who is one himself.
  • Having County Manager George Burgess negotiate the deal with the Marlins in secret was a violation of the state's public records law.

The most damaging of these, sports law professor Bob Jarvis tells Talalay, is the public-records argument: "If the court accepts that, everything they've negotiated goes out the window. Even if they do everything again, but this time in public, that would set them back months and months. Every time you get these setbacks, the cost of the building goes up."

In related news, Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen yesterday called the redevelopment plan a "megascam," a "shell game," an "orgy of waste, corruption, mismanagement and false promises," and a "$3 billion streetcar named Deceit." He also cited a recent letter from county commissioner Javier Souto predicting it would become "just another scandal" in which the county "becomes an active participant and accomplice in defrauding the ... community out of dollars meant to tackle poverty and create opportunities." But tell us, what do you really think?

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