Order is Restored to the Force

Fairness dictates that I acknowledge that the Miami Herald ran an editorial today endorsing the stadium plan. Ya gotta love that paper! The Herald’s editorial in full:

Now is a good time to build a stadium: City, county commissions should approve new home for Marlins

The conventional wisdom in our community is that it’s a bad idea for the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County to help build a new baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins. It’s a poor use of public funds. The timing is wrong. The financing doesn’t work. The fan base is too small. There are better uses for the money. You get the picture.

Air all concerns

There are many good reasons behind each one of these objections — but we believe that none of them, whether considered alone or collectively, should scuttle the deal. All these concerns and more should be thoroughly vetted at the city and county commission meetings on Friday. When the dust settles, we hope that both commissions say Yes to the project, not because we have drunk the stadium-or-bust Kool-Aid but because a viable baseball team in an environment that can draw fans and produce revenue for the team would be an asset that produces tangible and intangible benefits throughout South Florida.

Sports enliven and bring excitement to a community, as do museums, concerts, theaters and performance centers. Sports help to build and unify communities by bringing diverse groups, cultures and people together for a common goal, instilling pride when the team wins and stronger purpose when they don’t.

The Marlins deal requires a huge outlay of public funds, mostly from bed taxes generated by visitors, at a time when the economy is suffering the worst contraction since the Great Depression. Picking the right moment for an investment is always a gamble. But the investment should be considered over the full 35-year term of the loan, not the cyclical up-and-down swings of the economy. Long-term return on Convention Development Tax dollars has averaged 5 ½ percent, enough to cover the estimated 4 percent average annual cost of money borrowed for the project, says County Manager George Burgess.

Fans want comfort

Building a retractable-roof stadium will help eliminate the biggest factor contributing to poor attendance. More than any other team in the League, fans don’t go to Marlins’ games when there is even a chance of rain. A modern, comfortable stadium would generate revenue streams (something the Marlins currently don’t have much of), which, in turn, would be used to invest in quality players, said Marlins President David Samson.

A baseball team committed to staying in the city would complement South Florida’s many attractions. It would be a positive step in our community’s quest to better itself. The Marlins should win a green light on Friday. After all, the deal has been in the works for nearly a decade. Conventional wisdom has its place, but it shouldn’t stop a dream whose time has come.

About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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