Miami Dade County Community Forum

Friday, January 29, 2010

Miami Today: Michael Lewis Editorial on Sport's Stadium Deals

As the Community knows, the UEL takes a dim view of public money and public land going to to private entities. We believe that tax dollars and public lands should be utilized to benefit the most people possible, and that public lands should not charge admission to the public for using their own land.

Publisher of "Miami Today" Michael Lewis complains about the bad deal the public got with handing over the naming rights to Marlin's Stadium to the Marlins. Here are some excerpts from his editorial, blasting the terms of the deal the County agreed to with the Marlins:

It took a great deal by the Miami Dolphins to spotlight a hidden side of a disastrous deal by Miami-Dade County.

While Dolphins owner Steve Ross was selling the name of the stadium he owns, the Florida Marlins stand to collect even more on naming rights for the stadium that Miami-Dade County will soon own.

It'll be big money, another taxpayer gift to the Marlins.

At $4 million to $7.5 million a year (the Dolphins won't specify) last week's title sale to Sun Life was the biggest sports naming deal since the recession petrified corporate activity.

It won't be the last.

The Marlins could collect an annual bonanza like the Carolina Panthers' $7 million at Bank of America Stadium, the Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers' $9.3 million at Phillips Arena, the Houston Texans' $10 million at Reliant Stadium and the Houston Astros' $6 million at Minute Maid Park.

All these windfalls far exceed the Marlins' sliver of spending on stadium construction.

And that cornucopia doesn't include the team's other goodies from a stadium that somebody else — the taxpayers — will own.

The team gets all ticket revenues, all advertising revenues, all media fees, all concession revenues, all luxury suite revenues.

The Marlins profit so much that when one commissioner on deal day focused on naming rights, others pooh-poohed the minor matter, though the team could reap $250 million or more on naming during its lease.

The team's total payout over 35 years for rent and construction combined totals far less, $154 million tops, depending on how cheaply the Marlins can build a county project. Finally Lewis says:

The Dolphins' good deal already highlights how badly the county got soaked in its Marlins stadium giveaway.

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