Sites rise to eight as city adds more to baseball team
By Paola Iuspa
Miami's city manager said Tuesday that a stadium project coordinator has been named and a traffic consultant and architecture firm soon would be hired to analyze the pros and cons of what have become eight potential sites for the Marlins baseball team.
In addition, a real estate appraiser has been hired for the Bicentennial Park site only, he said.
The announcement about additional experts came at a meeting of the Community Improvement Authority, a state-created group in charge of making stadium site and financing recommendations.
City commissioners last week decided to analyze each proposal on the table before choosing on March 15 a site the city could give the Marlins to build a $385 million stadium.
One proposal would put the 40,000-seat stadium on the north bank of the Miami River. Two others call for the ballpark to go in Bicentennial Park. Another would place the stadium west of Biscayne Boulevard, re-routing the boulevard to the west. Yet another calls for the stadium to go on the Orange Bowl site and another would put the Marlins across the street from the Miami Arena.
City Manager Carlos Gimenez said Tuesday there are two new proposals in the making but he could not talk about them until city commissioners are told about them.
He said the report will be so comprehensive that the city needs to hire experts in fields such as traffic, planning and land appraising.
"I want the consultants to analyze parking, the traffic impact and relocating utilities," said Commissioner Arthur Teele. "There are many issues that need to be uncovered to understand the real cost associated with" each site.
Mr. Gimenez said sports consultants Legg Mason of Philadelphia and Stafford Sports of New Jersey are currently retained by the city to work on the report but need added help because they have only four weeks to cover many issues.
The consultants, which are untangling zoning issues, analyzing ground utility lines and estimating land cost for sites where the city would have to buy acres from private owners, need to finish the report by March 12.
Mr. Gimenez told a Tuesday meeting of the Community Improvement Authority, a state-created group in charge of coming up with site and funding recommendations for local officials, that the city had just hired a real estate appraiser to assess land values for Bicentennial Park.
He said the city would also hire a traffic consultant to measure the impact traffic would have around each site. He said the architecture firm Spillis Candela DMJM was in the process of joining the team to oversee the planning process and cover those areas that the sports consultants could not.
Javier Carbonell, assistant director of the city's building department, will coordinate the effort, said Chip Iglesias, assistant city manager.
The report is also to analyze the financing proposed in a letter of intent signed by Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas and John Henry, the team's owner. A deadline set in the letter expired last week but was extended for another month.
The financing would consist of $75 million in bonds, $122 million in state sales tax refund, $26 million in parking surcharges and $46 million in ticket surcharges. The remaining $118 million would come from the county's convention development tax.
Mr. Gimenez said the report will include financing alternatives. It was not clear whether the report would include the cost of environmental cleanups if they are required, but the city has passed a resolution saying it would not pay for such work.
Members of the Community Improvement Authority lamented the fact that the city's report won't be ready by Feb. 28, when the authority is to meet to write recommendations on a site and financing after compiling information since the group first met in December.
The authority has met almost weekly and talked to experts and sponsors for the proposals. It had also held hearings to promote public participation.