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| Columns |

Marlins Balk in Overtown

Recently, I noted the Florida Marlins were in desperate need of a good closer to seal the deal in the team's decade long quest for a new ball park. Well, they have an opportunity to get themselves one of the wealthiest relief pitchers in the real estate game to help them out. But don't expect Marlins owner Jeffrey Luria Loria to make a move.
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Last week, Palm Beach businessman Glen Straub offered the Miami Arena site, which he owns and which is debt-free, as the spot where the Marlins could build a retractable domed stadium in the event the deal to build it at the Orange Bowl property falls apart. 

The Miami Arena parcel certainly makes more sense for a baseball park. For one, it's right next to the Overtown Metrorail station which would encourage more fans from northern Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties to hop on Tri-Rail and Metrorail to go to the games. And there is plenty of parking already there as well. Heck, the county could even try and convince the federal government to finance the long-planned expansion of Metrorail along NW 27th Avenue to the county line by showing the benefits of encouraging baseball fans to use mass transit to get to the game. 

Straub says he would build the ballpark with a combination of private funds and rental fees derived from local hotel taxes. The wealthy entrepreneur asserts that his plan would eliminate the need for the county and the city to issue a bond to cover construction of the new baseball facility. "This pay-as-you-go arrangement would avoid much of the estimated $1.6 billion in interest that would accrue," Straub noted in a three-page memo he sent to the local media this past March 3. "Additionally, the facility would remain on the property tax rolls." 

That is a win-win for taxpayers and the community, but it's not the sweetheart deal Luria Loria has on the table right now. The city and the county are giving up the farm for Luria Loria. Under Straub's proposal, it doesn't appear that the Florida Marlins would get full control over gate receipts, naming rights, and everything else that would make the team attractive enough for Luria Loria to cash out and sell off the team.

And that is why the Marlins owner won't bite. 

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