By Trevor Bach
By Francisco Alvarado
By Trevor Bach
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
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. Whether you're driving down a tree-shaded block in Little Havana or cruising the Dolphin Expressway to South Beach, there it is: a $515 million money sucker that is probably the worst deal for taxpayers of any stadium in America.
As the Marlins have marched to their best start in their last season at Sun Life Stadium, fans are tempted to ignore the damn thing and just enjoy Hanley and Stanton pounding the leather. After all, voters had their revenge in March by ousting Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who did the deal.
But in just three weeks, residents will head back to the polls to elect a new mayor — a leader charged with righting the wrongs that bought the worst public works project in Miami history.
Before the vote, it's more important than ever to revisit the worst lies Dade County leadership and Marlins execs fed the public — from ludicrous claims that the team would go broke without the park, to pledges that the project will revitalize Little Havana, to the apathetic idea there's nothing left to fight about.
Look away from the monstrosity if you must, but don't forget the six biggest Fish tales about the new stadium.
BIG FAT LIE NUMBER 1
Miami politicians were working for taxpayers.
"We are not building a stadium for the Marlins. We are building a stadium for the enjoyment of Miami-Dade County residents." — ex-Mayor Carlos Alvarez, Miami New Times, October 28, 2010
The Ugly Truth: In March 2009, Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson looked around the dais, counted the votes, and concluded she had no chance to kill the Marlins stadium. The chamber was packed with team execs and construction lobbyists. So she made a suggestion: "I'd like to offer a friendly amendment," she said, "to name the stadium Bruno Barreiro Stadium."
How right she was. A New Times review has found that the former county commission chairman, 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.
What's more, over the next two years, the same interests continued to feed other key stadium deal backers.
Among these opportunists is a hodgepodge of companies including Trigam LLC, Parsons, Skanska, Thunder Electrical, and others. The Munilla family, a finalist to build the $94 million garage project, donated $6,500. A number of the companies that gave Barreiro cash later earned lucrative contracts to build the park; they include H&J Foundation, Contex Construction, and John J. Kirlin Enterprises.
Barreiro — who didn't return messages left with a spokeswoman — hadn't always been a best friend to the construction industry. In 2004, when he raised $63,000 for re-election, less than $1,000 came from the builders and contractors.
"Of course there's a connection between these donations and Barreiro's role in shepherding through this deal," says Norman Braman, the auto magnate who bankrolled Alvarez's recall. "You think it's just a coincidence? That's how this county commission operates. Special interests buy candidates votes and then get a piece of the pie."
Almost as curious was the cash flow of Barreiro's colleague Joe Martinez. He was the key vote to hire — without normal bidding — a group called Hunt/Moss to oversee construction. During the year before the vote, Martinez took $500 checks — the maximum amount individuals can give — from a litany of Moss & Associates' top execs, including three vice presidents and the legal counsel.
Martinez voted against the stadium, but for Hunt/Moss. Why the flip-flop? "I was against the stadium funding," he told New Times. "But Hunt/Moss... seemed very qualified to me."
Still have doubts about for whom the stadium's political backers were really working? Look at the financial reports of the political action committee Mayor Alvarez formed last year to fight his recall. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson personally kicked in $50,000 to keep him in office, Hunt/Moss added $5,000, and a laundry list of other stadium builders gave more than $73,000.
"I think he's an outstanding mayor," Samson told the Miami Herald.
Voters disagreed. Eighty-eight percent gave the big guy the boot.
BIG FAT LIE NUMBER 2
The Marlins are a struggling team that can't survive without a new park at taxpayer expense.
"[Jeffrey Loria] has been losing money like crazy." — Marlins president David Samson, Miami Herald, December 11, 2004
The Ugly Truth: Jorge Costales is a downtown accountant and passionate Marlins fan. The soft-spoken 51-year-old, a Miami resident since his parents came from Cuba when he was 2 years old, has rooted for the Fish since the team's first pitch in 1993. But when his favorite club traded slugger Miguel Cabrera and ace Dontrelle Willis in late 2007, supposedly because it was broke, he couldn't resist crunching the numbers to see if the team owners were honest.
Costales quickly decided they were lying. And for the past three years on his blog, 2thinkgood.com, he has told anyone who would listen that the Fish are much more profitable than they've ever admitted. "Their financials are so shady and they acted with such dishonesty," he says, "I couldn't keep silent."
You are against taxpayer dollars for rich sports team owners but for Taxpayer dollars for other types of cronyism like the Fillmore East?
Tell me New Times. What is it like being such a huge, bulbous, engorged HYPOCRITE!
This deal stinks on a number of fronts, but but backroom deal making was prevalent in many phases of the construction. A company called B-R Carts solicitied bid information from insiders even though they maintained it was a "sealed bid" project. What a joke. B-R Carts did not win the job for vending carts (even with inside information" but was then "gifted" the merchandising carts and kiosk in a non-competitive bid situation. I feel sorry for the people of Miami
Bond holders will take a huge haircut on this turkey when the city defaults. Paid attendance was around 24,500 last night, with maybe 20k actually in seats. Loria will start dumping some of that $118 million payroll by mid season. He is raping Miami, just like he raped Montreal.
Come on lets be honest is there an honest politision, i have never seen one yet. The stadium will help the economy by hiring people to work during the events. That it makes the skyline look bad, please... I personaly hate seing all the building going on everywhere in south Florida, but if there is grass someone wants to build something there. The stadium is great, and i think it will help the communitee in the futre
Look, all you people are being true-blooded haters. The stadium is absolutely beautiful, and fans WILL flock to see the Marlins. (I'm a Yankee fan living in St. Louis, fans of the Yankees, Cardinals, Cubs, Red Sox and such teams are generally REALLY loyal!) You just get brain-washed by the media into what you should think. Life is too short to think negative (studies show people who are negative don't live as long as positive thinking people, how do you like that?), it's a beautiful world out there. If you don't like where you live, then move somewhere else.
Its so easy for someone who doesn't live in the city to dismiss this article and call whoever is against the stadium a crybaby. If you actually lived there and had to pay taxes on a ugly stadium for a team nobody supports you'd think the same way to damn fool.
As a Montréal Expos fan, who saw the greasy, greedy Loria and his stumpy stepson sidekick Sampson go from a tiny percentage to 92% ownership through their larceny, destroy the franchise then literally steal its assets to take to Florida with the underhanded help of MLB, I pity the taxpayers of Dade and Miami. Not that anybody would listen to me, or even New Times and other experts, probably thinking a swindle like this could never go through. "Why, our elected officials would stop it, right?" Dead wrong.
Well, this superb article shows you nothing-but-the-truth, and those two slimeballs are getting away with multi-millions of dollars of the people's money. And the people will get nothing, NOTHING, in return. Taxpayers won't come close to covering the debt with the tiny stadium rent payments.
Hell is not hot enough for Loria and Mini-Me Sampson and everyone they got paid off to waste public money on a terrible stadium in an awful location for a lousy team that no one will go to see. The money would have been put to better use burned in a power plant to provide air conditioning to one home for fifteen minutes than to see it go to the Greedies, Loria and shorty Sampson. But they have zero morals or ethics to care, and are richer than ever thanks to the public not understanding or paying attention to the scam, and politicians happy to keep it that way.
I do not have all the facts and figures regarding the new ballpark, but I have common sense. The Marlins have one of the worst attendance figures in the MLB and it does not take an econ major to figure out a simple supply and demand curve. The stadium seats 33k and the MArlins attract 15k (so they say), and a new stadium is going to change things? Not a chance! The fact that public dollars are contributing to this stadium is outrageous. Please ask the small business owners that need space and capital equipment if they receive any money from the government. Baseball is a business and should be treated that way. If I manufacture a product, I need space to do that, and I will pay for it, why is it any different?
This guy is an idiot and clearly knows nothing about baseball. He said that a new ballpark won't attract more fans because the Nationals had low attendance in '06, the Reds drew a low attendance in '09, and the Pirates had low attendance in '10. Lets look at the records of the teams at each of those times; '06 Nationals: 71-91. '09 Reds: 78-84, after going 74-88, 72-90, 80-82, 73-89, 76-86, and 63-99 in all their previous years at Great American Ball Park. '10 Pirates: 57-105, after going 62-99, 67-85, 68-94, 67-95, 67-95, 72-89, 75-87, 72-89, and 62-100 in all of their years at PNC Park. The low attendance is not because fans are not attracted to the stadium, but because their team is struggling. The '10 Reds, who went 91-71, drew almost double the attendance of '09. Now, halfway through the '11 season, they already have had more attendance than all of '09. The '11 Pirates, who are 47-43 thus far, are selling out. Oh, and did he also forget to mention that the Phillies have the highest attendance thus far in their six year old ballpark? Or the Giants, Twins, Cardinals, Brewers, Yankees, Mets, and Tigers all have parks built 2000 or later, and all are in the top 12 in attendance? May I remind you that the Twins ballpark, Target Field, opened in 2010, and they have the 4th best attendance, and they have been in last place most of the year?
This article is filled with twisted truths and opinions masquerading as fact in the eyes of the writer. All you need to know is that without a new stadium, the Marlins would have moved out of the Miami area - and that would not be a good thing. Period. The disgraceful writing begins in the very first paragraph, saying this "ugly silver blah blah blah rises above the skyline"....well, it doesn't rise above any "skyline" because it's a STADIUM. Additionally, it is a truly beautiful ballpark, as many new ones are. This ballpark is in fact, more beautiful than the new Mets park, which cost hundreds of millions more.
As far as the quote from the random woman - literally random - she is truly wrong. A new stadium that is indoors in the Miami climate will guarantee a much greater attendance for decades. Additionally, while adults may be transported from other cities, there are plenty of young Miami fans who will remain that way with a stadium and team to go see - which there wouldn't be if they were supposed to continue playing in the old football stadium
omg you really believe that in Miami we only use tax $$$$ for what they are allocated for? what a joke, and as far as a better stadium improving tourism, I would not bet on it. I hope you don't spend all your $$ on Marlins tix and save some for when your 1 yr old is ready for college, because with our tax $$$ being used for ridiculous things like this stadium, while we are cutting from education and other more important places, your kid will not be able to get financial aid.
U said we alot in this article. U do understand that the money being used is tourist tax money that can only be used for something like this. Is it the best deal? No but would u rather have the team move? I will be there opening day 2012 with my 1 year old! While u sit here and complain about something that gives u a story to write.
Google in the input: = tntn.us ==you can find many brand names, even more surprising is that he will sell you the unexpected o(∩_∩)o
Yes, half of these are valid reasons of how the Marlins are liars, but I can say 1 thing and I for one am actually buying season tickets to the first year (2012). Mostly because i've been a fan of the marlins for a decade and I belive it will help out Little Havana, just like the Orange Bowl brought many fans from near and far, however I do not agree with the handling of getting the deal done or the idiot mayor that was ousted. Basically: Go Marlins! I've always wanted a closer stadium than having to drive all the way to Miami Gardens! Carlos Alvarez is an idiot and so is David Samson and Jeffrey Loria, for taking taxpayer money and putting it in their pockets.
Build a winning tradition? Seems like you're unaware that this far too evident of the back-door, dealing and corruption that's been the norm in Miami since it's inception. The copious amounts NOT pennies of taxes residents have to fork over for the next forty years IS NOT WORTH IT considering that your beloved fish will pocket all profits and pay no land taxes and none it going back to the community. You're a moron if you believe this money came entirely form tourist taxes: this came off the blood of every single resident who paid property taxes in Dade county, every laid-off employee, and every public safety projects whose monies were diverted for this stadium. So while the water mains keep breaking, the sewer pump stations overflow, anhydrous chlorine railcars ride our rails and the roads have sinkholes because there all funds are here (and they are) ask your positive buddy Loria to save you
Oh deal with it... The park is being made, and I for one am happy they finally got that issue out of the way, and now we could see our team simply play ball, and grow with the community, and build a winning tradition here.
Sometimes the ends justifies the means, and in this case yes it might be a bad deal now for the taxpayers because we're going to have to fork over a few pennies more a year in taxes or whatever the deal is but I as a fan think it's worth it, and I am going to enjoy every minute of it.
Your life is short so enjoy it people, and stop being so god damn negative... GO FISH!
Awesome article, and great news-gathering.
It is more than obvious that people here in Miami-Dade County have been ripped off by Loria, his midget son-in-law David Samson; and, their crooked politician cronies. I hope the lawsuit pending succeeds so justice prevails!
Awesome article. It is more than obvious that people in Miami-Dade County have been fleeced to the max by Loria and his midget son-in-law Samson.
Anyone with the ability to read knows the lyes concocted by the friends of Loria, thats how this group should be called, but what I want to know is does the district attorney of this county see how this criminal element stole from the citizens of this county or her being so close to crime (her Sons being that crime wave) just made her to turn a blind eye to what has been going on under her nose, if Jefrrey lorias paying the bills of the attorneys handling Carlos alvarez case is not a case of conflict of interest; I just don't know maybe the only way we can tell crime in this county is if a blackman is standing in a corner making a few bucks while at city hall millions dissapear and she does not even blink an eye or maybe she did.
Someone needs to go to prison for this. Seriously, why isn't someone being prosecuted? I guess the people in office are still corrupt. Just terrible.
It is a shame that our money is being wasted to fund a rich mans hobby when he has millions of dollars in painting around the world, as for Samson he is a a bottom feeder he wants to all thes things off the tax payers backs, let the Marlins go because they will only still draw around 10.000 people to the games once everybody gets a taste of the new stadium.if the marlins would leave let them take the Dolphins with them.
This should be on the ballot for a vote. Stop the construction. Fine the ball team owners $150-Million and take their franchise license. That will be justice in a box. In fact, right after Miami would own the team, rather than some owner.
The next professional team, owner get no subsidies, land or tax concessions or any other type of give a way, make it law. Its simple, just put it on a ballot. This way we stop getting ripped off. Once you make these franchise-owners build their own stadium without tax payers money and other subsidies, then they will have to perform. Sunshine laws, mean full transparency,and accountability, why are these guys not in jail? See thats the problem in Dade and the State of Florida, we have to stop crime at the Top. Screw the Leagues secrecy laws. Have the legislators pass a law that says; Screw your secrecy law-let see your books. Call it amendment "SYS" What about the IRS and 10K filings and or just corporate filings. One company no subsidiaries or get your booty out of town, and do not let the door hit you in booty. Will someone wake upthe voters!
Just don't go to any games and see what happens to these Azzholes pockets. I dare real citizens to stand up and not support these thieves.
This article just sounds angry. Reality is that is was probably the not best deal for Miami-Dade, but a nice baseball staduim near d,owntown is the right thing for a well recognized city. It will bring jobs during construction and during games and concerts and that is what Miami-Dade needs. Who cares you is making what? The writer just sounds bitter that he isn't getting a cut of the pie. Maybe he should start his own construction company and bid for a contract and forget writting if he wants to make more $.Here is six truths on why its a good idea: 1) Current stadium is a dump. 2) More jobs in Miami-Dade. 3) Business travellers and turists get to catch a game without drivings an hour away from their hotels. 4) People can catch a game after work during the week a lot easier. 5) Easy to go to Brickell, Gables or Beach after the game during the weekends for drinks afterwards. 6) At least we can enjoy what we are paying for instead of all the other bad government deals that we have nothing to show for it.
yeah well Miami is one of the poorest metropolis out there.. and with the dolphins & canes being the historic franchises, and the Heat being the new Fad, It only leaves the fish fighting for scraps..pardon the pun. The fish are relatively new. I'm only 30 and i can easily remember the days before we had a baseball team. The stadium was needed, but it was built on lies and its only gonna be a welfare for the rich & famous. Those who can afford the luxury boxes are gonna love the new stadium while the city goes.... wow, i cant believe i got drunk and spent this much money. If we average about 18K fans a game i will be surprised
so you don't like to hear the truth? Us taxpayers have to live with this sh**. We were lied to COUNTLESS times. They forced this upon us. Ever been to a game? you could sit and count the fans. Horrible. Waste of money. And destruction of a landmark. Good luck cleaning up the area and bringing in all these new fans. Ehh cubsfan. you're a joke
yeah tourism! ha! funny! The only time I went to a city just to see a baseball game was to watch the World Series. A once in a lifetime Mets V Yankees series. And im still regretting it. The stadium is not gonna bring any tourism. I tell you what will bring tourism.. clean the effing streets and reduce crime. South beach gets worse and worse every year.
Go marlins!!!! Unfortunately...your season tix will go straight into Loria's pocket and if we ever win another world series he will sell off our players to buy another Hampton home...
The stadium will be built but we shouldn't have to pay for it when the marlins are making sooooo much money...
$2.4 billion that will be spent on the stadium divided by the counties 2.4 million residents = $1,000 per resident. FUCK THE FISH!!!
"oh deal with it"? I don't even like baseball and yet this stupid stadium will ultimately cost my family and every other family in Miami-Dade a whopping FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS. You're right, life is short.. too short for us to just sit back and let our nasty politicians take advantage of us for their own personal gain. The Marlins should have paid for this out of their own pocket and should be forced to fork over a bigger chunk of the pie now that it's been revealed that they lied about their grim financial status and now that the project is coming in over budget! When all is said and done this stupid stadium has a $2.4 Billion dollar price tag and that, quite frankly, pisses me off.
stopping construction on a stadium thats more than halfway done is a bigger waste of money than anything
You are not for real?? How much did you invest in this deal and more important, how much will you/did you get out of it??