County disputes some Miami Marlins ballpark cost claims
By Ashley Hopkins
The Miami Marlins say they've expended $38 million toward creation of their $515 million county-owned baseball stadium, but county officials say Miami-Dade will dispute payments that don't fit the project's purview.
"We are going to deny certain elements of that," said Jose Galan, program legislation chief for the county's Internal Services Department. "We will resolve it between us."
He didn't state what or how much the county would dispute.
The Marlins provided the county a 14-page document listing $38 million in expenditures they've counted in their share of the Little Havana ballpark's cost.
Among smaller listings, the Marlins state they've paid Comcast $2,037 for cable TV and internet, L2L Digital Printing $3,583 for aerial shots and prints of the ballpark, Flora E. Montoya $26,870 for cleaning, $897 on office supplies at Office Depot and $8,997 on office supplies at Direct Office Supplies.
The hundreds of line items include $78,083 in monthly office staff payroll and $5,000 monthly auto and accommodations allowances, plus legal fees to several firms, including more than $1 million to Holland & Knight alone. They also include telephone services for the Marlins sales headquarters.
Original construction agreements said Miami-Dade was to put $347.5 millions into stadium construction, while the City of Miami was to provide $13.5 million plus build parking.
The Marlins' original share was to be $154 million for construction and $1 million for the design portion of public infrastructure improvements. However, the county's 2009 bond sale fell $6.2 million short and the Marlins agreed to cover the shortfall, reducing the county share to $341.3 million and increasing the team's to $160.2 million.
The team agreed to pay the county $2.3 million a year rent, rising at 2% each year, once the stadium is done. The Marlins count those payments in their $160.2 million share as well as any team expenses related to the ballpark, including architectural drawings and attorney fees associated with the project.
If the project comes in under budget, Mr. Galan said, any remaining funds owed from the Marlins contribution will go into a capital reserve fund to repair the ballpark as issues arise.
As an April opening day nears, the county has spend about $25 million of $35 million it got for the Marlins' ballpark share from bonds the county issued in 2011 to cover hard project costs, including construction and consulting expenses, Mr. Galan said. The county lent that $35 million to the Marlins at no interest in the deal.
The Marlins say they have expended $38 million of their $160.2 million share of the ballpark work, Mr. Galan said, adding that ballpark agreements were structured so that most of the Marlins contribution would be expended after the county and city's contributions.
As the team would be responsible for any overruns, the county continues to review and verify the funds the team lists as having been spent for the project, Mr. Galan said. The county, he said, will then dispute any charges that it feels should not be included in the project's costs.
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