City team set to hit homer for Marlins
By Paola Iuspa
Now that a ninth member has been named to the new Community Improvement Authority, members of the agency say they are ready to tackle their top priority a stadium for the Florida Marlins baseball team.
The authority will have the power to issue revenue bonds to finance the proposed $400 million ballpark, said Sergio Pereira, a county hall lobbyist appointed to the authority by the county commission.
The state legislature created the authority after it failed to support a tax on cruise passengers to finance the project.
Finding a way to pay for the ballpark will not be the group's only task, members say. It will also seek ways to enhance downtown, Mr. Pereira said.
The authority, he said, will come up with projects to improve facilities or create new ones, such as a marina or facilities for another major league sports franchise.
"The statute says we will oversee the planning, construction, renovation, functioning and maintenance of different developments," he said. "But the Marlins stadium is a priority."
William Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and a member of the Community Improvement Authority, said his group will recommend funding sources.
Mr. Talbert, who has experience in sports administration from working for four years with the Women's International Tennis Association, said he wanted to be part of the authority because the bureau's board supports the Marlins stadium but is against new tourist taxes.
"This industry is already supporting about 50% of all sports facilities and programs," he said. "Less than a half of 1% of our tourists come here for sports. It doesn't draw tourists."
He said that percentage was based on a 1996 study conducted by the county.
No meeting date for the authority has been set.