Wednesday, November 23, 2005

So Go

The Florida Marlins are threatening to leave town if they don’t get what they want.

Frustrated by their inability to strike a deal for a new retractable-roof stadium, the Florida Marlins announced Tuesday the team has received permission from Major League Baseball to talk to other cities about relocating — as soon as the 2008 season.

Even before Tuesday’s news conference was finished, a city official in Portland, Ore., had called the Marlins to express interest, a baseball source said.

Marlins president David Samson said owner Jeffrey Loria prefers to stay in South Florida and will continue efforts to secure a new stadium here, but Samson conceded, “after all these years, I think everything is a long shot.”

The announcement brought a definitive close to faltering negotiations between the Marlins and the city of Miami about building a stadium next to the Orange Bowl in Little Havana.


The Marlins have rejected several stadium pitches that were deemed unrealistic. Among them: an offer by boxing promoter Don King to build a facility in Palm Beach, a proposal to share a stadium with the University of Miami football team, and an inquiry from the Seminole Indian Tribe.

Samson also dismissed a Broward County politician’s suggestion that the Marlins and state combine to build a stadium that could be used as a hurricane shelter. “It’s not realistic,” he said.

I like baseball a lot, but I draw the line at state-supported facilities for private for-profit corporations, especially ones like the Marlins whose history of loyalty to their fans is problematic at best; after they won their first-ever World Series in 1997 the owner gutted the roster, selling off their best players to the highest bidder. That’s the thanks we got?

After the Marlins won again in 2003 there was a lot of hype about building a baseball-only stadium in Miami; currently they play their home games in Dolphins Stadium which is located on the Miami-Dade – Broward County line. The talk then was to build the stadium in the downtown area or by the Orange Bowl and re-name the team the “Miami Marlins.” That pissed off a lot of fans who live in Broward; having to schlep an extra twenty miles through the horrendous traffic of Miami was not an idea they liked, and the name change was an insult to the rest of the fans who don’t live in Miami. (The Dolphins, on the other hand, started out in Miami in the old AFL; they played all their home games in the Orange Bowl until Joe Robbie Stadium (later named Pro Player Stadium, then Dolphins Stadium) was built in 1987.) There was a lot of haggling with the city, the county, and the state until everyone decided that if the Marlins wanted their own stadium and if they could pay hefty salaries to their players, they could come up with the dough to build their own place and not mooch off the taxpayers. As a liberal, I’m all in favor of government supporting cultural things like entertainment and the arts, but that doesn’t include subsidizing teams that already make a huge profit or enabling the egos and temper tantrums of people who make more in a week than their average fan does in a year.

Good luck in Las Vegas. It gets hot there.