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Politics

Forbes: Miami ‘Hosed’ in Marlins' Stadium Deal

January 27, 2013 - 6:00pm

This probably comes with little surprise to Miamians, but Forbes is reporting that the year-old, $640 million Marlin Park could become the worst taxpayer financed stadium deal ever.

For starters, the stadiums financing scheme means there will be some $3 billion in interest expenses on the construction loans that will be paid by city and county taxpayers, Forbes reported in a story titled "Miami Marlins Have Become Baseball's Most Expensive Stadium Disaster."

Worse for taxpayers, there is no incentive for (Marlins' owner Jeffrey) Loria to put a good team on the field because the city and county must pay the bondholders regardless of how the team performs. Moreover, a small but quirky part of the bond financing has turned a $91 million loan into a $1.2 billion liability for taxpayers. And to add insult to injury, the Marlins are nickel-and-diming taxpayers over capital repair costs."

The real question is how this reverberates through sports.

Miami-Dade County officials are already concerned the deal will spoil their efforts to upgrade Sun Lite Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins.

Meanwhile, you have to wonder whether cities such as Tampa, which has a small faction that would like to build a new park for the Tampa Bay Rays, will be able to muster public support when any opposition can simply point to Marlin Park.

Hows this for any 'No vote" campaign copy:

For years Loria ran low-budget baseball franchises and made a fortune by successfully maneuvering through Major League Baseballs financial system, Forbes wrote.

Lorias strategy: rely on welfare from richer baseball teams and every now and then spend enough to have a contender (the Marlins defeated the New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series) so fans stay at least somewhat interested.

"During the five years through the 2011 season, the Marlins posted a staggering $153 million in aggregate operating income.

But then Loria decided to switch to a different form of welfare: taxpayers.


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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