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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Residents of Miami were raped" in Miami Marlins stadium deal-SI.com

3/25/13, "Art of the deal," SI. com, S.L. Price

""Miami has a history of bad deals, but I would rank this Number 1," says city of Miami mayor Tomás Regalado, whose vocal opposition to it helped him win election in 2009. "The residents of Miami were raped. Completely." [end p. 6]

That most of the public funding for the retractable-roof stadium is paid out of a tourist tax provides little solace: Miami has far more pressing needs than a baseball stadium, critics say, and any shortfall in tourist-tax revenue could force the city to dip into the already-stressed general fund used to pay for police, education and public-works projects. Meanwhile, storefronts flanking the blindingly white edifice, built upon the Orange Bowl site, sit empty; more than three years since breaking ground, Marlins Park has yet to provide the promised economic boost to the surrounding neighborhood.

"I don't blame Jeffrey Loria or David Samson," Braman says. "I blame the ignorant, stupid politicians, the ignorant, stupid chamber of commerce and business groups that supported this and made this happen."

As ever, the South Florida journalists covered it all—and well—and many of those same writers who'd held Huizenga and Henry to account did superb jobs tormenting Loria. But like every newspaper, the Herald, sitting a little more than a mile east of the ballpark, has suffered drastic cuts in staff, circulation and resources over the last 20 years; as Braman spoke, a mass invite was circulating for a farewell party for the iconic old Herald building, now owned by a Malaysian resort conglomerate.

Neither deposed Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez, then city of Miami mayor Manny Diaz or county manager George Burgess nor the county commission required that the Marlins open their books, an oversight that became a civic embarrassment when Deadspin obtained financial documents in 2010 revealing that—in contrast to team claims that it couldn't survive financially in old Sun Life Stadium—the franchise received a league-high $92 million in revenue-sharing income during the 2008 and '09 seasons and turned a $33 million profit.

With that, antique terms like con job and shell game enjoyed a local resurgence. When Samson, Loria's top executive since 2000, told The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade's economic development group, in a speech just before the '12 season that politicians aren't "the cream of the intellectual crop" and implied that Miamians in general were even dumber, he came off as arrogance unbound. "They insulted the taxpayers, and then they insulted the fans," Regalado says of Loria and Samson. "It was: We did it to you—and screw you.""...(p. 7) via Drudge

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