Local governments still negotiating

Updated: April 29, 2004, 2:02 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MIAMI -- Financing for a new stadium that would keep the Marlins in Florida is very close, according to a report in Thursday's editions of the Miami Herald, dependent in large part upon negotiations over the sale of Miami Arena and the building of a parking garage.

Miami-Dade County, which would own the $325 million retractable-roof stadium, and the city of Miami appeared close to an agreement Wednesday, but returned to negotiations when snags developed over the 2,500-car garage and the arena.

Miami mayor Manny Diaz and county manager George Burgess were hopeful an agreement could be reached as soon as Thursday. A deal would then have to be approved by city and county commissions.

"We're not quite there tonight," Burgess said Wednesday, according to the Herald. "Hopefully, we'll be there tomorrow. It's not insurmountable."

Diaz agreed: "We're very close. It's very fluid. When all is said and done we will have a working agreement. It could be tomorrow or it could be a week from now."

Joe Arriola, Miami city manager, appeared more pessimistic, the Herald reported, indicating that because the Marlins failed to secure a $60 million state sales tax rebate much of the proposal must be renegotiated. Both the senate president and house speaker oppose the proposed $2 million-a-year rebate over 30 years, but club president Dave Samson flew to Tallahassee on Wednesday to lobby for the rebate.

According to the Herald, Diaz feels a deal can be sealed without state aide this year.

The city would sell Miami Arena, for which it already has a $25 million offer. But, how much would go into the stadium and how much would go toward the $32 million garage is still being negotiated. An estimated $23 million would go toward the ballpark, the Herald reports.

Other sources of financing include $137 million from the Marlins, $73 million from county tourist taxes. Money the city had previously earmarked toward the arena would go to the stadium.