Letters to the Editor

From the issue of March 8, 2000

Baseball: It Won't Fix Downtown
Which, by the way, used to be a very cool place: In response to Jim Mullin's article "Out of the Park"(March 1), I want to point out that Biscayne Boulevard has stood its ground for what seems like forever. Any attempt to move it -- as proposed in the Park West plan for a new Marlins baseball stadium -- would be a disgrace to the entire area. To move it for a ballpark is just absurd.

Every politician is talking about revitalizing downtown Miami. A review of history proves nothing is going to accomplish that until they make the area safe. Jordan Marsh built a new department store that was going to revitalize the downtown area. It didn't. The Omni complex was built as a sure-fire thing for revitalization. It went bust. The Miami Arena? What can you possibly say about that idiotic extravaganza? The American Airlines Arena hasn't done much, and neither has Bayside Marketplace.

Now a baseball stadium? It won't be coming to town on our dimes, as Mr. Mullin wrote. It will be on our millions of dollars. And as for revitalization, you can just shove it in the drawer with the other boondoggles that have been proposed.

When we first moved to Dade County in 1948, going downtown was a pleasure. You could go to many good restaurants, your choice of several movie theaters, or just walk around and view the bay or visit the docks, especially the old Pier 5, where you could buy really fresh fish. Now you can't even see the bay. And as for walking around, only a fool would try to walk the streets of downtown Miami after dark.

A baseball stadium? I'm not sure we need one, especially if it is going to abuse the use of land already robbed by the politicians. Do we really need it?

Bill Bodine
Hialeah

Baseball: A Wild Pitch to Taxpayers
How does a poverty-stricken city think it can afford this? Jim Mullin correctly comes to the conclusion that regardless of where the Marlins build a stadium, the taxpayers of the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County ultimately will pay for it. The original insistence on the stadium being located inside Bicentennial Park was nothing more than a ploy. It provided our cadre of local politicians a way out by giving the public the perception they saved the park. The question is: Who will save the taxpayers?

Will a Marlins stadium be the cure-all for downtown Miami? If the James L. Knight Center, the Miami Arena, the Orange Bowl and the American Airlines Arena are any indication (and they are), the answer is a resounding no! Should the City of Miami (which, by the way, is the fourth-poorest large city in the United States) use one cent of taxpayer money or give away valuable assets to a private, for-profit enterprise with a billionaire owner and multimillionaire employees? Unless you're John Henry, a lobbyist, a politician, or someone connected to any of these people, the answer is a resounding no.

Miami has a median household income of $19,900 for a family of three. Can many of these residents afford regularly to attend Marlins games? Unfortunately the answer to that question is no!

In Miami not only do you pay close to the highest tax-millage rate allowed by state law, you also are charged a fire fee of $75 per dwelling unit, a twenty-percent surcharge on parking, and an outrageous $330 solid-waste fee -- just to name a few. Should a city that treats its residents this way make large concessions to billionaire sports-franchise owners and their millionaire players? Unless you're that owner or one of those players, I think the correct answer is a big no!

If the politicians really care about how the people feel on this issue, shouldn't they allow the people, who ultimately will pay for this stadium, to decide whether or not it is a good investment? Common sense would say the answer is yes.

Only by lowering taxes and fees, and concentrating on providing good basic services will the City of Miami improve its lot and attract more investment and residents. Building another soon-to-be-abandoned white elephant in downtown Miami will only serve to burden the taxpayers further and exacerbate Miami's problems.

Emiliano Antunez
Miami

Baseball: Let's Go, It Ain't My Dough
Tourists are suckers anyway:In his article about a new baseball stadium, Jim Mullin indicated that "we are going to pay for it." I thought the majority of the money would be coming from a bed tax, so unless I move into the Fontainebleau Hilton, how would I be paying for it? And no new taxes have been added to help pay for it. It's an existing tax that has a surplus. Would you be so kind as to explain this to me?

Roy E. Rodriguez
Miami

Editor's note: Roughly $266 million (and perhaps much more) of the estimated $385 million cost of constructing a new stadium is proposed to come from public sources: $118 million in hotel "bed" taxes mentioned by Mr. Rodriguez, $122 million from a rebate on sales taxes collected at the stadium, and $26 million from the City of Miami's parking surcharge. Many other costs remain unknown, including the county's obligation to maintain the stadium, which it will own. None of those estimates include the public cost of preparing a site for construction, which could be substantial. As for bed taxes, it's true visitors pay those, but that money could be designated for public uses other than a sports stadium. Critics say its diversion to stadium construction amounts to an "opportunity cost."

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