Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
There's been a lot of talk in Miami since the World Series ended of building a new stadium for the Marlins. Don King offered land in Palm Beach (too far North). The city of Miami offered to donate land (somewhere) and help with the financing (cash, tax breaks, etc). But lost in all of this is that Miami is the poorest city in Miami. Per capita income is very low. Does it really make sense to build another stadium in this town. While only one stadium has been built in the city of Miami in the last five years (the Heat's American Airlines Arena), the nearby Miami Arena (vacant except for the occassional concert and the minor league hockey Miami Manatees). But near Miami, the Florida Panthers have built a new arena (with taxpayer money, like the AAA) - the Office Depot Center. The University of Miami has also built an on campus arena (privately financed) for their basketball teams. Plus there's the two football stadiums in town - Pro Player Stadium, home of the Dolphins (and the Marlins - for now at least) and the Orange Bowl, which is home to the University of Miami's football team (and a smattering of other random events). Pro Player was privately financed, exclusively by former Dolphins owner Joe Robbie as I understand it and the stadium is not that old. Miami's Orange Bowl is very old, and allegedly the city is already planning to spend between $60 and $100 million to upgrade this stadium which is used for less than ten major events each year (keep in mind that the Orange Bowl played each January is not held at the Miami Orange Bowl anymore).
All in all it sounds like a lot of money being spent in a poor city on things that won't generate much income for the people of the city. Yes, the baseball stadium would create jobs, but it would also cost jobs in the northern part of the county from the people who currently work at Pro Player during the baseball season. The incremental number of new jobs isn't going to be anything dramatic. And if the city of Miami could find an investment like they're proposing to help the Marlins out with - where the team could generate $30 million in incremental revenue annually on a $100 million dollar investment, the city or county would probably be better served to take advantage of that investment themselves and invest in education, roads, and other things that benefit more people than a 7th major sports facility in the metro area. I know that's not realistic - such an investment doesn't exist for a municipality, but I think it helps make the point of how preposterious it is for the city to put up the money for the Marlins to have their own stadium right now.
And now my most important random thought... while flipping channels at home the other night I accidentially stumbled upon a station broadcasting what appeared to be Puerto Rican Winter League baseball games in Spanish. If you don't live in Miami you might not know this but about 20 or 30 of our stations on cable are in Spanish. I usually fly right through them since I don't speak Spanish. But now I can't find this station again and given some of the things that are on TV around here at night, I might actually want to watch these games. So if you know what station the games are on, please email me.