Some good news out of Miami Thursday for anyone who hopes to see a Marlins franchise that does more than develop players who will play out their careers for other teams. The Miami city commission approved plans for a new stadium on the site where the Orange Bowl once stood.
The 37,000-seat stadium has a projected cost of $639 million and would feature a retractable roof. The plan, which calls for a 2012 opening, must now pass a vote from the Miami-Dade County Commission. They are scheduled to vote Monday and, strangely enough, the economic downturn may prove to be the driving force behind their approval.
Few parts of the country have been as hard hit by the bursting real estate bubble than Florida. That's been terrible for all kinds of people and industries, including, obviously, the construction business. Members of that industry were among many residents, pro and con, who showed up to be heard on the stadium issue.
"I'm unemployed, been unemployed for the last six months. I'm living off my credit cards," said Greg Mikenas, a carpenter from Lake Worth. "I'm not here to ask for a bailout, I'm here to ask for a job."
For years, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has complained that the lack of his own ballpark has limited the amount of resources he's willing to put into the team. That's led to rumors of relocation, which have themselves led to a suppressed audience unwilling to watch a threadbare team that might pull up stakes and leave town at any moment.
A new stadium won't be a panacea for either the local economy or Loria's bottom line. It's a necessary step toward making the team a viable franchise going forward, however, and the need to create jobs may be the thing that finally pushes a stadium past the finish line.