Mayor on Taxpayer-Funded Marlins Park: 'Residents of Miami Were Raped'
Miami mayor Thomas Regaldo accused the Miami Marlins franchise of raping the residents of Miami by bilking them to fund their state-of-the-art stadium, Marlins Park, that has everything from a retractable roof to aquariums behind home plate.
As S.I. Price of Sports Illustrated wrote, Miami, one of the country's poorest cities, and the county "are the team's partners now, no matter how toxic the air between them has grown."
The ballpark financing agreement "sparked an SEC investigation and is considered so one-sided that almost no rhetoric sounds too extreme: The team will pay for $160 million of the $634 million facility, and compounded interest and balloon payments on one $91 million loan will end up costing the county $1.1 billion when it is paid off in 2048."
Miami mayor Thomas Regaldo said the Marlins owners "insulted the taxpayers, and then they insulted the fans ... It was: We did it to you—and screw you." Regaldo has opposed the deal, which uses various taxes to fund the stadium, since the beginning.
"Miami has a history of bad deals, but I would rank this Number 1," Regaldo said. "The residents of Miami were raped. Completely."
According to Sports Illustrated, "neither deposed Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez, then city of Miami mayor Manny Diaz or county manager George Burgess nor the county commission required that the Marlins open their books," which was an "an oversight that became a civic embarrassment when Deadspin obtained financial documents in 2010 revealing that—in contrast to team claims that it couldn't survive financially in old Sun Life Stadium—the franchise received a league-high $92 million in revenue-sharing income during the 2008 and '09 seasons and turned a $33 million profit."
Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Jimenez said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who has the lowest approval rating of anyone in South Florida after Fidel Castro, said the team simply bilked the city and county.
"This is the most despised ownership I've ever seen in this town," Gimenez says. "They took the county for a ride to get a stadium. They've taken the people for a ride with the product they've put out. They develop players, and as soon as they become good and somewhat expensive: Boop! Off they go. There's no continuity here."
Early season-ticket sales have dropped to just 5,000 as the Marlins had to conduct a fire sale and unload many of its top players--like Jose Reyes--to dump salaries the team could not afford. The stadium opened last season.