Stadium negotiations winding down, but no vote set for county
By Risa Polansky
The Florida Marlins are about ready to play ball, with construction and management negotiations for a new stadium set to be complete by month's end, Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Bruno A. Barreiro says.
But he'll wait to pitch the proposed agreements to fellow commissioners until he gets the green light from legal staff.
County attorneys have advised not to publicly discuss the documents until a pending lawsuit from car dealer and activist Norman Braman is heard, Mr. Barreiro said.
As chairman, he oversees the agenda.
Mr. Braman is fighting against the county and City of Miami's so-called global agreement, a package of major projects — including the Marlins stadium — set to be backed largely by redevelopment dollars and tourist taxes.
The court date is July 1.
After the hearing, "legally we have to look at the whole issue and make a determination" when to bring the construction and management documents up for a commission vote, Mr. Barreiro said.
Both county administrators and team representatives have indicated negotiations will be complete by June 30, he said.
The soonest full county commission meeting is to be held July 1, coinciding with the court hearing. The next is scheduled for July 17.
The preliminary baseball agreement the county and city approved in February sets a July 1 deadline for commission approval of construction, non-relocation, assurance and management agreements.
Mr. Barreiro said he thinks commissioners should be able to consider the documents in early July and says he has been told the delay won't hurt the timeline.
"The administration has said they don't want to see it stalled forever," he said. "It will affect the schedule if we continue to push it much further down. But the beginning of July, I think they're comfortable with."
County Manager George M. Burgess said late last month that plans for the stadium are on track.
He also predicted commissioners would see the necessary agreements in early July.
February's baseball agreement states that the city or county can terminate the pact liability free if the parties can't agree to the terms of any or all agreements by Aug. 31.
The team has the right to terminate the agreement if the governments miss any of several set deadlines.
In such cases, the team, county and city would each be responsible for one-third of most stadium-related out-of-pocket costs expended through July 1 or the date the agreement is terminated, whichever comes first.
The costs would not include what the city spent to demolish the Orange Bowl to make way for a ballpark on the site.
The 37,000-seat retractable-roof baseball stadium is to cost $525 million.
The Marlins announced last week that the team is negotiating with Arizona-based Hunt Construction Group and South Florida firm Moss & Associates to build the park as a joint venture.
Upcoming stadium legislation will require a two-thirds majority to pass: nine of 13 county commissioners.
Some have said they believe the stadium deal's facing a strikeout.
"I don't think there are enough votes," Commissioner Joe A. Martinez said last week, speculating many commissioners' resistance stems from the stadium's connection to the global agreement.
But without the mega-plan, "I think it (the stadium) would be almost unanimous" in gaining approval.
Mr. Barreiro noted that commissioners cannot discuss issues amongst themselves under Florida open government law, making it difficult to know in advance who's voting for what.
"I'm not sure if (the suggestion the stadium plan would fail is) true or not if we don't have the votes."