A new twist in Miami

From the 11th hour department:

The owner of the now-defunct Miami Arena, Glenn Straub, has proposed a land swap in which he would exchange his downtown Arena site for the Orange Bowl site in Little Havana. The Marlins would then build a ballpark on the Arena site and Straub could start planning for other development. The land exchange would not be a straight swap due to the sizes and relative values of the parcels. To kick up the intrigue, Straub has said he and his partners would build the ballpark and finance it themselves. There is a question as to who would own the stadium in the end, probably the city.

According to both MLB COO/President Bob DuPuy, such a solution would be impractical for numerous reasons:

“It is our view that the careful negotiations for the stadium were the product of literally years of work, among Baseball, Dade County and the City of Miami,” DuPuy said. “We looked very hard at that [arena] site when we were looking at downtown sites. More land would have to be acquired. The general obligation bond of $50 million wouldn’t be available, so even if the costs were exactly the same, we’d be short $50 million.

“There’s difficulty there with utility buildings and power lines that would have to be relocated. There’s a railroad line cutting through there that would also have to be relocated. And finally, the community is committed to developing Little Havana and the Orange Bowl site, and we want to be part of that development.”

While it’s true that additional land would have to be acquired, it’s not a significant amount. An active railroad right-of-way runs through the block and sits immediately to the south of the arena. It would have to be rerouted around the resized ballpark site. A street that runs through the site would also have to be rerouted as well.

The big advantage of the site is that unlike the Orange Bowl, the site is right next to Miami’s Metrorail service, which is like a limited version of BART. Since not much is known about the financial scope of this, it’s impossible to say if it passes the smell test. Still, should Norman Braman’s lawsuit against the city/county result in striking down the OB plan (via referendum), this is certainly a Plan B worth considering.

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