County Fighting $1.7 Million in Spending Claimed by Marlins For Ballpark Project

The team has claimed pillowcases, office furniture and ad banners as construction costs

Tuesday, May 29, 2012  |  Updated 9:53 PM EDT
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Miami-Dade County is fighting $1.7 million in spending on items such as pillowcases, brochures and ad banners that the Marlins have claimed as construction costs for their new ballpark, The Miami Herald reported.

All of the claims the county is questioning are connected to the team’s small sales office that was next to the parking garages on NW 7th Street. The Marlins believe spending such as $110,545 for rent, $259,057 it paid to a design firm and $33,226 on office furniture should be credited toward its part of the construction bill for Marlins Park, the newspaper reported.

But the county says such items are “soft costs” not covered by a 2009 deal.

“In my opinion, we caught everything, even petty stuff,” county administrator Jose Galan told the Herald. “But that’s because of how deeply we looked.’’

The agreement between the Marlins and the county defines soft costs as consultation, design and legal fees paid by the ballclub in connection with the construction of their new $634 million home in Little Havana. It stipulated that the team could spend up to $89.5 million on such items but they ultimately spent only $38.5 million. The team spent $120 million on the Marlins Park project in all, according to the Herald.

The Marlins and county are negotiating over the disputed spending, and an arbiter will rule on the final differences.

Team president David Samson wouldn’t answer specific questions about soft costs, the Herald reported.

Among the items the county is challenging are $5,568 in legal fees the Marlins spent fighting Norman Braman’s failed bid to stop construction, and $10,980 for a celebration after construction was completed, the paper said. The team has already agreed to waive the latter item, however, according to the Herald.

“If I were the mayor, I’d certainly hire an outside group, forensic accountants, to look into this,” Braman told the paper. “Wine bills … what do all those have to do with construction? It sounds like rip-off number two to me.”

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