By Marianela Toledo | Florida Watchdog
MIAMI — The Miami Marlins’ success on the baseball field does not seem to have trickled down to the new stadium.
While fans celebrate the team’s 21-8 record in May, the best in the league, as well as the new name, new park and new logo, Miami-Dade County officials and the major league team are arguing over who will pay for the nearly $1.7 million stadium.
The problem arises from a 2009 agreement that allows the baseball team to deduct the construction expenses as “soft costs,” according to the Miami Herald.
Soft costs include design, consulting and legal fees.
At the end of construction earlier this year, the Marlins claimed $38.5 million in soft costs.
Of that amount, $1.7 million is being questioned after a county audit, which found that most of that money is associated with a small sales office adjacent to the stadium parking lot.
The disputed charges ranged from banner ads, cable and electricity and costs paid to the design firm Group A2, as well as office furniture, curtains, carpets and fabrics to cover pillows.
The county said the construction of the facility and associated costs should not be borne by county taxpayers, since it is a sales office and not part of the stadium project.
The Marlins have agreed to waive some of the rebates invoiced to the county, including a $10,000 wine bill incurred when the project was approved for construction, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez told Florida Watchdog.
Gimenez, who is running for re-election after winning a special recall referendum in 2011, was one of the main opponents of the stadium when it was proposed.
“We are not going to pay for these expenses,” said Giménez, adding that he was “sure the dispute will be resolved, as it is now in the hands of a mediator.”
County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz told Florida Watchdog that he initially voted “in favor of building the stadium, based on the information I was provided.”
Despite the problems, Diaz believe that the county must continue to support the project.
“No, no regret. The good news is that the stadium is already done and it is magnificent. Now we have to support them,” said Diaz.
While the Marlins and the county wrangle over the stadium, the team’s tickets have come down in price.
When asked about the ticket prices by Miami Today, Phil Miller, an associate professor in economics at Minnesota State University and contributor to the Sports Economist, a website about the business of sport said, “The ticket prices reflect something else. They do not have much of a market. Miami is not really a good market for baseball.”
Since the opening of the new stadium, the price of seats in privileged rows have fallen more than 50 percent, according to Miami Today.