Luis Montealegre poured a café
Cubano on Tuesday, paid a delivery guy for croquetas, and peered east a few blocks from his corner cafeteria. There
was only blue sky where a $634 million Marlins baseball stadium will soon rise.
"This is the poorest part of the city, the one that needs the most help," said the
handsome 44-year-old in Spanish with a Nicaraguan lilt. "I love baseball, but
this stadium won't help anybody here. It 'll do nothing for the middle class."
After 15 years of blather, first Miami, then Miami-Dade
commissioners this week ponied up their parts of the new $634 million stadium
on the old Orange Bowl site. Calling it "our own stimulus package," they raised
the possibility of spending even more. Eloquent opponents like Miami-Dade's
Carlos Gimenez and Katy Sorenson, as well as Miami's Marc Sarnoff, were mowed
down like summer grass.
The morning after the vote, though, the heavily Latin
neighborhood around the site was underwhelmed. Riptide questioned about two
dozen shop owners and others. Almost none spoke English fluently. Some came from
baseball-loving countries like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua and
Venezuela. Others were born in Honduras,
Colombia, and Argentina where Abner Doubleday's invention - at least for now - is
no big deal.
All but one or two predictedel
estimulo won't stimulate anything.
"They'll sell things in
the stadium, not outside."
"This area will never change. The stadium is window dressing."
"It's politics. It's mierda."
Four Honduran construction workers who live opposite the site
criticized the stadium in machine-gun fashion. All were fathers. All would like
to see basketball courts parks, playgrounds, and baseball diamonds for their
kids. None expected to get a job on the
stadium even though 50 percent of the work is guaranteed to locals. Why? Well, two don't have work permits. The
others have lived here long enough to get it. "It's too much money," says Luis
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Alberto Padilla, a 32 year old who's been in this country for 14 years. "We,
the people who pay for this, will never get back what we invested."