We Wuz Robbed! New Marlins Stadium a Scam on the Taxpayers
Post on April 17, 2015 by The Victoria Law Group 0 Comments
- Where does one begin when talking about all the things that are wrong about the new Florida Marlins Stadium being built in the Little Havana neighborhood that used to be home to the Orange Bowl in Miami. Timing, Location, Financing, Team, Ownership: All Bad! But just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, new Marlins’ financial documents released this week show that it’s worse than everyone originally thought, much worse. The taxpayer “wuz robbed” in one of the worst example of public/private pork in recent history. On top of bad Timing, Location, Financing, Team, Ownership, add Deceit.
Here’s an opinion piece by one of the lone voices in the community to actually put his own money up against the building of the stadium. Norman Braman fought the city and the city won. The real loser: Miami Dade taxpayers.
Laughed all the way to the bank
BY NORMAN BRAMAN
Surprise! The Florida Marlins are among the most profitable teams in baseball.
Incredibly, these profits were amassed when the Marlins were negotiating the 30-year, $2.4 billion stadium deal with the county and city, using public taxes (including a $35 million county loan to the privately-owned Marlins), while allowing our befuddled mayors, managers and commissioners to believe the team was nearly destitute and would depart South Florida, leaving Miami without the status of a world class city.
They even led us to believe that the team received no revenue from baseball-related parking and concessions at the stadium Joe Robbie built without public funds. Yet the documents appear to show evidence the Marlins received about $6.5 million during those two years from those sources.
Throughout those negotiations, the Marlins flatly refused to disclose their finances to the county and city — County Mayor Carlos Alvarez testified he never asked for them! — and the court in my lawsuit refused to order discovery of this information. Who negotiates away $2.4 billion of public money (the amortized cost of the bonds issued by the county and city) without knowing the finances of your negotiating partner? Our local commissioners, managers and mayors who prevented the public from voting on this giveaway and who now may claim, reflexively, they were hoodwinked. (Only Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado was against this deal as a commissioner, along with four Miami-Dade commissioners who voted No.)
Still, incumbents are re-elected and re-elected and re-elected. Witness Tuesday’s results, where only about 17 percent of the eligible voters turned out.
Caught red-handed, or should I say, green-palmed, Marlins President David Samson spins the reason why the Marlins spent so little to put a team on the field, from his former mantra of lack of fan support to, according to The Miami Herald, ensuring the survival of the ball club. That’s pretty good survival — $52 million in operating income and about $33 million net income in 2008-2009 (including $92 million in MLB revenue-sharing), to which net income probably should be added back $5.4 million in “Management Fees [to a] Related Party.”
“Related”? You guessed it — that would be the Double Play Company, the managing general partner of the Marlins, a company that belongs to team owner Jeffrey Loria.
What perhaps is most galling is that all of this occurred while the county and city were facing huge deficits, forcing them to cut government budgets and services, and reduce government workers’ pay (except for some of the county mayor’s staff who received an increase for “new duties”). Meanwhile, the real-estate market has endured about 100,000 foreclosures and property values have plummeted. The nation rolled into a recession, and the unemployment here has topped 13 percent. The Miami-Dade Commission now is considering a monumental property tax increase.
What was Loria doing? Probably laughing. According to news reports, Loria this year paid about $22 million for land and a home in Southampton, N.Y.
I believe that Samson and Loria are not even residents of Miami-Dade County and pay no property taxes here, and, while enjoying 100 percent of the new stadium revenue, will be reimbursed for any property taxes the new stadium pays.
At whom is Samson angry? The scoundrel(s) who released documents containing what MLB tries so hard to keep secret. He called it “a crime.”
At whom should Miami-Dade taxpayers and baseball fans be angry? Yes, at the Marlins, but more so at our elected officials who voted for this unnecessary corporate welfare and were hoodwinked. Or were they?