As Marlins alter roster, stadium costs under review
By Lou Ortiz
When the former Florida Marlins knocked on the door for county stadium financing, one of the concerns raised by Miami-Dade commissioners was the penchant for the ballclub to trade star players.
The stadium passed on a 9-3 commission vote back in 2009 and one of the nays was cast by ex-commissioner now County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez.
Despite the new name, the Miami Marlins haven't changed habits. Gone in July trades are Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante. But trades are no longer a concern of the county administration under Mayor Gimenez.
"The Marlins, not the county, are responsible for their day-to-day operations, which includes personnel decisions," said Jose Galan, acting director of the Real Estate Division of the County Internal Services Department.
However, Mr. Galan's department is reviewing expenses submitted by the Marlins on the baseball stadium that have come under scrutiny by the county.
"The Miami-Dade County Internal Services Department and the county's owners representatives, URS Corp., are reviewing the expenses," he said.
In May, the Miami Marlins said they had spent $38 million of their $160.2 million share of building a $515 million county-owned baseball stadium. The county said they had planned to dispute 692 expenses, totaling more than $1.68 million and counting.
The Marlins gave the county a 14-page list of $38 million expenses they've counted. The county's Internal Services Department is working with officials from the Owners Perspective, the team's outside consulting group, to review the payments, comparing the team's list with available invoices.
Mr. Galan said the mayor had not been in contact with the Marlins about the issue.
"This is not an audit, but the normal course of project management for a public-private partnership," Mr. Galan said. "I am confident county staff will continue working with the Marlins to ensure taxpayers dollars are being spent in accordance with the agreement in place."
Some of the items raised in the initial dispute included:
nPayments of $42,431, $50,392, $76,081 and $90,153 to A2 Group, a Miami-based engineering and construction management organization, for construction management services at the Little Havana ballpark's marketing center.
nA $30,333 and a $10,000 payment to SME INC., a New York-based national branding firm.
nA $27,610 and a $27,159 payment to Hollywood Woodwork, 2951 Pembroke Rd., Hollywood.
Under construction agreements, Miami-Dade is to put $341.3 million into construction and the City of Miami $13.5 million, plus build parking.
In exchange for a $35 million bond sale, the team is to pay the county $2.3 million a year, rising 2% yearly, and $750,000 a year to capital reserves.
"The expenses and annual payments are two separate issues," Mr. Galan said. "The $2.3 million annual payments will proceed regardless of the outcome of the disputed expenses."
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