Glenn Straub: Too little too late
Hey Glenn Straub. I WANT to watch baseball downtown,. I WANT to TAKE the Metromover to games,
But I wish you would just shut up.
Straub penned a letter to the public (which you can find on the jump) defending his idea for a downtown stadium. But we've moved too far with the Little Havana stadium and I for one am sick of watching the Marlins give away every decent player who ever swung a bat for them.
With the city vote yesterday voting to expand the Southeast Overtown Park West District, we have removed another stumbling block.
So Glenn, I applaud your inventiveness. But now sit down!
Proposal for Privately Funded Miami Ballpark
March 12, 2009
To Community Leaders:
I have been asked to explain in further detail my proposal to build a new ballpark using the old Miami Arena property.
It has been reported in the news media that this site is not acceptable to the Marlins. Yet it was Major League Baseball that first sought to build the new stadium downtown spending hundreds of thousands of dollars optioning property in the area.
They are well aware of the advantages to the down town location for the team and fans such as existing parking, the existing public transit system and proximity of the facility to the potential fan base -- all features that do not exist at the Orange Bowl.
It was not until the funding of the ballpark in downtown came up short that the Orange Bowl site was considered and only then because it had $50,000,000 in funding for renovations that could be used toward the new stadium that caused the change in location.
It now seems everyone has amnesia about what happened a few years ago.
As a reminder I offer excerpts from various news articles:
November 22, 2006
Dade leaders pitch 'urban' ballpark for Marlins
The latest proposed site for a new Florida Marlins baseball park has drawn praise from some and skepticism from others but no pledges of new money to fund construction.
BY MATTHEW I. PINZUR
Some of Miami-Dade's top officials are optimistic that a new downtown stadium site could plant the Florida Marlins in the heart of the city, but financing its construction remains a major hurdle.
Just north of the Stephen P. Clark Center, the nine-acre site would give baseball fans easy access to existing parking lots, commuter rail and Interstate 95. It is also just blocks from two other top entertainment destinations -- the American Airlines Arena and the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.
"We really think this can work," said County Manager George Burgess.
JUST ONE OPTION
A team spokesman declined to discuss the new site.
"We continue to look at all our options in South Florida, and this is one of them," said P.J. Loyello, senior vice president for communications and broadcasting.
County government has offered previously to spend $120 million for a new stadium and the team was willing to spend about $210 million. That was still far short of the estimated cost, projected at $420 million earlier this year and likely growing as construction costs increase.
Diaz, however, hinted that his government may be willing to help, an offer that many thought had died late last year. He said he has "always loved the idea of an urban site." At the new downtown site, all the land is government owned -- mostly by the county, with a small piece held by the city. Both Metromover and Metrorail stop at the Clark Center, connecting the site to neighborhoods from Dadeland to Hialeah. And Burgess said the ballpark would be served by the numerous parking lots, restaurants and stores that otherwise empty out when the business day ends.
"It's an urban ballpark, which has generally been successful from Major League Baseball's perspective," Burgess said.
In another article the following was reported:
While a decision on the location of a new stadium for the Marlins is far from being made, don't be surprised if the newest idea - a downtown site just north of the Miami-Dade County government center - ends up the preferred choice.
The location is publicly owned by Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami, which would significantly reduce the cost of a ballpark; is adjacent to Metrorail and Metromover and not far from I-95; and there is ample parking nearby.
Several county commissioners were open to the idea of the site Tuesday, but said they want to ensure the county finds a good location for the Children's Courthouse for juvenile and dependency cases that is slated for the area, and that taxpayers don't end up being unduly burdened with the cost of a ballpark.
"I love it. It's got great potential," said County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, who as the the former Miami city manager is quite familiar with the ballpark project. Gimenez loves that the property is publicly owned and so close to Metrorail. "I think it can work ... It was right under our nose all along."
It appears that Major League Baseball's interest in an area south of Miami Arena may have spurred county officials to begin exploring whether other downtown spots might be viable.
While Commissioner Katy Sorenson continues to oppose public funding of sports venues and Commissioner Natacha Seijas said she has questions about the new site, other commissioners, including Sally Heyman, Bruno Barreiro, Javier Souto and Rebeca Sosa, said they were open to the idea, if a suitable location can be found for the Children's Courthouse.
"I think it's a good location as long as we can take care of the children's court," Barreiro said.
It's too early, county and city officials say, to talk financial terms for the site, but it's pretty clear the county, city, and Marlins will all have to participate and all of them hope the state will finally contribute. Miami Mayor Manny Diaz supports bringing a stadium to downtown to help round out what he says is becoming an increasingly dynamic area with condos, restaurants and the recently opened Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.
These are just a few of the many news articles demonstrating the widespread interest in a downtown ballpark. I chose just a few to make my point. I think this puts to rest the recent comments from the parties that the downtown site was never considered favorably. To the contrary, it was said to be the best site for all the reasons stated above.
Two years ago I made the offer to discuss building the ballpark downtown with our family doing the financing. But by this time a deal had already been struck between the City, county and the Marlins. The team had an offer it could not refuse no matter where the stadium was built.
At that time our country was not in the financial crisis we are experiencing today. No one seemed to care then how much debt we incurred and how or if it could ever be repaid. It seemed like everyone would build first and figure out how to pay for it later. This philosophy has not served us well.
I do not want anyone to think that I would offer the team the same terms as the city and county. These terms in today's world make no financial sense. I may as well hand to them a check for two billion dollars and call it a gift as make the deal that has been agreed to. I will not do that and the taxpayers of Miami-Dade should not be asked to either.
I find it impossible to believe that this has gone this far without someone demanding to know if the bonds funding this project can actually be sold. I have not seen a firm commitment from any reputable financial firm guaranteeing that they can place the bonds at a certain interest rate that the city and county can afford. To the contrary, I have seen plenty of press how the bonds cannot be re paid.
Before this project goes any further, someone should demand a firm commitment to purchase the bonds be presented for review. Until this is done not a single dime should be spent on this project.
I am proposing an arm's length transaction for a lease between us and Major League Baseball, the city and the county. The lease I propose is computed on a six per cent interest rate with all expenses being paid by the tenant.
The lease payments cannot be determined until we know what accessories will be required (such as retractable roof, number of executive suites and number of restaurants).
I have offered to take the Orange Bowl property as partial payment of the lease cost, if that is of interest to the city and county.
No bonds would have to be sold to pay for this project. It would be funded totally through private financing.
I would be making available the land free and clear and putting up half of the cost in cash. The balance would be financed by conventional financing using the lease as collateral.
I would anticipate my overall cost to be substantially below that of the Orange Bowl site because there would be no need for the parking garages and other infrastructure such as people movers .
I also anticipate being able to deliver the facility to the team much earlier due to the elimination of these unnecessary features.
If the team wanted to reduce the lease payments, they could buy down the lease with an upfront payment. This is how leases are done everyday in business. I am also willing to provide that the team, the city or county would have the right to purchase the stadium from me for what I have invested, if at any time in the future, that makes sense to the parties.
I would require in the lease provisions detailing what would happen if the team was sold or left town. Plain and simple fact is this would be a bone fide business deal in no way resembling the proposal currently on the table at the Orange Bowl site.
Dave Sampson the Marlins President said Tuesday of this week that I had not contacted him with a proposal. That is a correct statement. The reason I did not contact him is that this offer is a backup to the Orange Bowl site. I did not contact Mr. Sampson because he had made clear no other site would be considered while the Orange Bowl site was on the table.
Once the Orange Bowl site has been eliminated I would hope he would want to take the time to hear more details.
I anticipate having a draft of a rendering and a site plan by Tuesday of next week.
If the parties are agreeable, the next step would be the development of a detailed term sheet