If you build it – Traffic will consume the neighborhood, taxpayers will fund 73% of 2000 temporary construction jobs, Jeffery Loria will cash out in a few years, the Little Havana neighborhood will be revitalized disenfranchised, The Marlins will stay in Miami (for 35 years, guaranteed), etc…
This Friday, the Miami-Dade Commission will meet to determine the fate (maybe – they will likely postpone the vote) of the Marlins’ Ballpark at the Orange Bowl. As we noted earlier, from a strictly urban policy perspective – the current site plan (and funding scheme) is a calamity.
In addition to bilking taxpayers for 73% of stadium costs, we will also find ourselves footing the bills for at least $100 million dollars worth of parking. Then, in the not too distant future, we’ll realize we built the stadium too far away from existing transit, and we’ll need to fund a reasonable solution (like a streetcar west from downtown to the MIC) or our elected officials will think up of a $180 million scheme to create a people-mover extension from the Culmer station. By this point, I’m sure most rational people would then agree that it would have been better to save the hundreds of millions in parking and transit costs and just build the damned thing in downtown, near existing parking and transit to begin with… But hey, this is Miami, right? We can’t do anything right…
To reiterate – the current site plan will have deleterious effects on the surrounding community. In its current state, the site will act as a vacuum – sucking in traffic while providing few benefits to little Havana.
Central to the Marlins’ and public officials’ pitch to taxpayers was a promise that, in exchange for $450 million in public subsidies, the $609 million stadium project would propel redevelopment in the surrounding area, luring commerce, jobs, amenities and foot traffic to an area that sorely lacks them.
But the stadium site plan released this month suggests that the city of Miami’s approach might best be summed up as “build it and hope.”
Contrary to Andres Viglucci’s thoughts, to me, the current site plan evoke more of a “build it and to hell with the surroundings.”
In reading the article last weekend, I was curious if anyone caught onto the glaring contradiction posed by the political proponents of the stadium plan and the city planners.
On one hand, political proponents claim the park will serve as a catalyst, bringing commercial and retail activity to the community at least 80 days a year. This activity is confined to the “mixed-use” garages (FYI – parking/retail mix does not constitute mixed use) that provide scarce retail space along the base of the garages. This space, of course, is supposed to be sufficient to create a vibrant district around the stadium, regardless of the season.
Then the truth comes out we have the city planner’s take on the garages surrounding the stadium:
City planners say the size and shape of the garages were dictated largely by the Marlins’ need for 6,000 spaces and quick exit times.
My question remains, if we were planning a vibrant district around the stadium, wouldn’t we want to complicate the exit procedure so that people would linger around the stadium longer? It appears that is what the Seminole Hard Rock Casino did (rather well, I might add) in Hollywood (from what I’m told: just try leaving there in a timely manor on a Saturday night after a concert…) From a planning perspective, I would agree that this idea is convoluted, but it illustrates that the entire site plan is being designed so that drivers can come and leave as efficiently as possible on game day – not as it should be – a structure built to compliment a community.
As our own Tony Garcia aptly noted, ”Why are people going to come to this area? What’s going to make it a destination, and not just for baseball games?…You need a better mix of uses here, not just parking garages.”
Below are a few images of some other successful baseball parks around the country. These stadiums, particularly San Diego’s Petco Park, exemplify what a Baseball stadium should look like, how it should fit in with the surroundings, and how people interact with these spaces not just during baseball season, but 365 days a year. Compare these parks to the rendering above.
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