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May 04, 2011
Miami New Times report: Six lies about the Marlins stadium
My Village Voice Media cousins at the Miami New Times have completed their analysis of the new Florida Marlins stadium, and come up with six big lies about the project. Let us count them off:
- Local pols were just doing their best for the taxpayers: "A New Times review has found that the former county commission chairman [Bruno Barreiro], whose district includes Little Havana and the site for the new park, took almost $40,000 in donations in 2008 — one in every six dollars of his total take — from firms with an interest in bidding on the project."
- The Marlins can't survive without a new stadium: "In 2008 and 2009, even as the team was begging for a public handout at county hall to build the stadium, it turned nearly $49 million in profit. By [blogger Jorge] Costales's calculation, the Fish have made $300 million in revenue sharing since 2002 and banked at least $154 million in profit."
- The stadium will create good jobs: The New Times provides a long laundry list of malfeasance from contractors working on the project, including an electrical contractor that had been "blackballed from county work for almost a decade after its contractors were accused of stealing $17 million," and a sheet metal firm that was sued by the EEOC for allegedly firing an employee who became pregnant.
- Fans will love it! The attendance boost from a new stadium only lasts about four years, according to a study by Washington University economist Ron Kamara. Also, "In a random poll of 800 Miamians that [stadium opponent Norman] Braman commissioned before the vote, 57 percent said they hated the new park."
- The stadium will revitalize the Little Havana neighborhood: "'If there's any spillover, it doesn't go more than a block or two,' says Neil deMause, author of the 2008 book Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit. 'The whole point of a new stadium is to have all this shopping and food inside so you spend all your money there.'" (As I also pointed out but it didn't make the final cut of the article, having a stadium is hardly going to change Little Havana much given that the Orange Bowl was already there for decades.)
- It's too late to change the deal: A pending lawsuit charges that "the City of Miami broke Sunshine Laws, illegally gave the team tax-free land, and improperly tied public money to the project," and is hoping to have the whole thing rescinded (though it's unclear how that would happen, given that the place is already half-built).
All of which is great investigative work, but still none of it can match the article's opening sentence: "Like a festering, silver-plated pustule, a grotesquely huge can opener, or just an obscene ode to wasted cash, the new Florida Marlins stadium is rising above Miami's skyline." Okay, that beats the Bagel Slicer.