So much for protests. Taxpayers are on the hook for a $634 million new playground for the Marlins, and the biggest grassroots organizer against the project says he wishes he hadn't wasted his time fighting it.
"The fix is in. It was a dog-and-pony show," says Michael Burnstine, an insurance salesman who organized an anti-stadium coalition. "If I had known eight weeks ago what I know now, I wouldn't have put in countless hours fighting this thing, because it was a no-win battle."
Burnstine and his group weren't against a new stadium for the Marlins -- they were against the sweet deal the team negotiated, with almost $300 million in construction funds coming out of tourism taxes that could have gone toward a new Miami Beach convention center or other projects that would actually, you know, draw out-of-state tourists.
But what's done is done, and Burnstine says there's a new priority: holding the Marlins over the fire on their biggest promise, to create new jobs in Miami-Dade. As a great story over the weekend in Portfolio Magazine showed, those promises often don't pan out. Their analysis showed that, for all the millions of dollars New Yorkers gave to the richest franchise in America, the new Yankees Stadium produced only 22 new full-time jobs in the South Bronx.
"I hope everyone follows up on this to see just how many local jobs are
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created," Burnstine says. "And when I say local, I mean Miami-Dade.
These are our taxes paying for this; we better get the jobs."
The contractor already rewarded a no-bid deal to build the stadium is a joint venture between Fort Lauderdale-based Moss & Associates and D.C.-based Hunt Construction Group. In other words, it's a venture between two companies not based in Miami-Dade.
Does that mean they won't hire Miami-Dade labor to build the new ballpark? Not necessarily. But with $300 million in taxes and another $50 million in local bonds on the line, it's worth checking whether those thousands of jobs in Little Havana actually put locals back to work.