Currently viewing the tag: "Marlins"

We could not be more grateful for our loyal Transit Miami followers and readers. While we often enjoy spirited conversion on the issues we cover, the dialogue is always civil, educated and thought-provoking. It’s our readership that makes Transit Miami the agent for change we strive to be in moving Miami forward. Below is a collection of quotations from our readers in light of this weekend’s tragic crash outside of Marlins Park via our Facebook page and here.

“Whether this was a freak accident is beside the point when human traffic is an afterthought. If you step back and think about it, it is absurd that 4 inches (maybe) of elevated concrete is supposed to be safe.” - Leah Weston

“No matter the causes behind the vehicular deaths, it is still made so much worse by being so vehicular-oriented. A person suffering a heart attack or other medical crisis on a train, bike or foot would not only cause less trouble to others, but also be more likely to survive themselves.

And then you get into secondary harm. Orienting to the automobile destroys our economy, ecology and society. Autos should be tools, not careless gods.” - Karja Hansen, Barrio Workshop

“I think of truly great baseball stadiums like Wrigley Field, where thousands gather before and after games to fill the streets, purchase merchandise, food and drinks. This Marlins stadium is nothing like it. I’ve already made up my mind to never go there and to boycott this ridiculous waste of taxpayer money and now, to save my life.” - Rima Gerhard

“The departments that are responsible for such roadway designs defend those designs on the grounds that they are “safe.” If we demand street trees, on-street parking, fewer curb cuts, wider sidewalks, they say “those are unsafe” or “those features worsen congestion.” We should be ashamed of ourselves. I’m sickened to call myself a Miamian when I read such reports. We should shame the decision-makers into providing more layers of protection for our pedestrians and cyclists. If we don’t, we are less than human.” - Andrew Georgiadis, Dover Kohl and Partners

“Our straight and wide streets encourage speeding and reckless lane changes that often lead to motorists losing control of their machines. This needs to change.” - Roger Williams

“As nice a venue as the new stadium is, the infrastructure in that community is not designed for the masses of humanity that attend an event.” - James Camp

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Two separate motor vehicle crashes claim the lives of 5 pedestrians, 6 total in Miami this weekend.

City, County and Marlins officials must address shocked, saddened and angry community regarding unbridled vehicular chaos.

The 4th of July will not be a day of celebration for the friends and families of the 5 victims killed by out-of-control motorists in Miami this past weekend. In one of the bloodiest and saddest days I can recall, Saturday June 30th will be remembered as one of the ugliest and most tragic in 21st century Miami.

The worst of the carnage took place on Saturday evening in the shadows of the sparkling new Marlins Park. Shortly after leaving the Marlins game, three family members from Georgia were killed on the sidewalk walking to their car when a red Dodge minivan driven by Herberto Ortega Arias, 67, of Miami jumped the curb and plowed into them only one block away from the stadium. The dead victims were all related and include a 13-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy and a 50-year-old woman. Another relative, a 10-year-old girl remains hospitalized in extremely critical condition. A passing cyclist was struck and slightly injured and another pedestrian was so distraught over the sight that he too had to be hospitalized. The driver of the minivan, Arias, also died in the crash.

Screen shot of MiamiHerald.com on Sunday morning.

The Miami Herald coverage included speculation that Arias may have suffered some sort of medical emergency which lead him to lose control of the vehicle. However, the Associated Press coverage made no such claims, reporting that “authorities did not say what caused driver to lose control of the minivan”.

Only a few hours later, senseless vehicular violence struck again. This time, two people standing outside a Liberty City restaurant were struck and killed when an out-of-control motorist slammed his SUV into a parked vehicle. The impact of the crash pushed the parked vehicle through the restaurant’s front window, violently striking the men, who both died at the scene.

The staggering pedestrian death toll from motor vehicle crashes this weekend should rightfully be a long-overdue tipping point for improved road safety and dangerous roadway design in Miami.

Transit Miami calls on Miami-Dade County Mayor Gimenez, City of Miami Mayor Regalado, Marlins President David Samson and local police departments to jointly address a community that is truly stunned by the unacceptable level of motorized vehicular carnage this weekend.

The Marlins have yet to release any official statement on the crash, they shamefully did not hold a moment of silence for the victims before today’s game, did not make a public service announcement reminding fans to drive safely or do anything to meaningfully address the tragedy right on their doorstep. Last year, when a fan at a Texas Rangers baseball game tragically fell to his death, the Rangers lowered flags to half mast and established a memorial fund the very next day in the victims name. Transit Miami calls on the Marlins to follow suit and not act like insensitive “small fish” in light of Saturday’s horrific crash.

Further, we have repeatedly addressed the deplorable pedestrian and cycling conditions around Marlins Park. It’s painfully obvious to anyone walking in the area that the conditions around the stadium are utterly ill-suited for the increased pedestrian volumes that come with major sporting events.

In an article for Transit Miami earlier in June (Bike to the Game Day….Not in Miami), I wrote, “The arterials of NW 7th St and NW 17th Ave are downright hostile and nasty – for motorists as well.”

This is precisely where the crash on Saturday took place that killed four people.

I continue, “The Marlins also consistently brushed off requests from the City of Miami to assist in making the area more bicycle friendly. The team did widen a few sidewalks immediately adjacent to the ballpark.”

Unfortunately for the family from Georgia, these widened sidewalks do not exist more than few steps from the stadium. Walk just one block away to your car or bus stop and you’ll experience dated, dangerous and dilapidated sidewalk conditions directly adjacent to roaring vehicles everywhere you step.

Here is NW 7th St. just a few feet east of where the crash took place (behind me). The stadium is only one block Southeast. Notice how narrow the sidewalk is, directly adjacent to a high-speed arterial roadway with no protection from speeding vehicles (on-street parking, trees, a protected bike lane, etc.) The sidewalk is also steeply sloped for the curb cut, which most likely exceeds ADA requirements for wheelchairs. There is however, room for on-street parking behind me, and a grossly long left-turn lane to my left.
This is where thousands of people will attempt to walk to get to and from Marlins Park this year.

The past 24 hours have been a total embarrassment for Miami, as major national news and sports media outlets have covered the horrific event to wide audiences.

The current conditions on Miami’s roads is emphatically a public safety crisis. A response from our local and state officials is not something we are merely “asking for”. Events of Saturday’s magnitude require a strong, meaningful, action-oriented response. Failure to do so represents a dereliction of duty to our community at the highest level.

Mayors Gimenez and Regalado, the citizens of Miami-Dade county await your leadership.

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Marlins need to step up to the plate and encourage healthy transportation.

The Miami Marlins won two games over the Colorado Rockies earlier in May, but they’re taking us to school out in Denver on encouraging healthy ways to get to the ballpark.

Below is an e-mail from the Colorado Rockies announcing their “Bike to the Game” event. Fans that bike to Coors Field this Sunday will enjoy free, attended bicycle parking and can enter a drawing for fun prizes which include a chance to take batting practice with the Rockies before a game. The rest of the e-mail highlights other initiatives the Rockies undertake to improve their community, including a season-long program in which the team plants a tree for every home run hit.

The Rockies aren’t alone in their active transportation initiatives. Other teams like the Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and others offer free bicycle valet and other benefits for those that leave the car at home.

Contrast these programs with the Miami Marlins idea of “bike friendliness” which includes bicycle racks in the middle of car-clogged parking garages and a few hitches around the stadium. The list pretty much ends there.

If you are curious on how to get to Marlins Park by bicycle or on foot, prepare to dig through the team website to find any helpful information. Bicycle and pedestrian directions are buried at the very bottom of their “Parking at Marlins Park” page. This begs the question - why would pedestrian directions be under the parking information? By putting this information last, it makes walking or biking seem like the least attractive option. This of course, is pretty misguided - The Miami New Times already proved that biking is the fastest way to get there.

The included area map is also tremendously disingenuous, as it includes routes labeled as “funded greenways”, “funded sharrows” and “funded bicycle lanes” which don’t exist yet. The Marlins also consistently brushed off requests from the City of Miami to assist in making the area more bicycle friendly. The team did widen a few sidewalks immediately adjacent to the ballpark.

 

Enjoy those "funded" projects sometime in the future.

The bicycle racks the Marlins installed are like putting a dollar bill inside a wasps nest. Your average Joe probably isn’t going to stick their hand inside. Despite some quiet Little Havana streets around the stadium that are easily navigable and pleasant for riding, many fans are unfamiliar with them. The arterials of NW 7th St and NW 17th Ave are downright hostile and nasty - for motorists as well. The Marlins do absolutely zero to encourage riding to the game like other teams do, including the Rockies.

Even more bewildering is that despite the new stadium being recently awarded a LEED Gold certification, the Marlins have no active transportation programs for their fans. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction) is a rating system designed by the United States Green Buildings Council to guide newly constructed, high-performance buildings that minimize their impact on the environment, are operated in a more efficient manner and are healthier for those who use the building.

But how the majority of fans are arriving to the park is anything but “green”. Attendance at the park is already waning. The Marlins should step up to the plate, follow the lead of other teams and encourage more active transportation to the ballpark.

The cost is minimal and the greater Miami community will appreciate the outreach from a team in desperate need of improved public relations. Bicycling isn’t a fringe activity in Miami any longer and the Marlins should take notice.

Bicycling is Miami is positively booming

(Updated 5:05 pm) The Marlins can show their interest by supporting the upcoming Green Mobility Network Marlins Stadium Ride. Working together with City of Miami Bicycle Coordinator Collin Worth, GMN will be identifying the best routes to the stadium, and will be having a kickoff ride June 30 to “show residents of Miami that it is possible to bike to the Marlins stadium,” according to organizer Eli Stiers. Time for the Marlins to step up to the plate.

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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.

The Development Around Petco Park

The Development Around Petco Park (Image Via: docsplatter)

New Development Around Petco Park

New Development Around Petco Park (Image Via: Oh Snap)

Development Around AT&T Park

Development Around AT&T Park (Image Via: Gedawei)

Wrigley Field as Seen From the EL

Wrigley Field as Seen From the EL (Image Via: straightedge217)

Fenway Park's Entrance (Image Via: Ally85)

Fenway Park's Entrance (Image Via: Ally85)

From the Sun-Sentinel:

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I attended today’s county commission meeting to voice my support for many of the projects, particularly the port of Miami Tunnel and the Streetcar. I sat through all 10 hours of testimony and discussion, at times observing our commissioners running around in circles. Hours of discourse could have likely been saved had all the elected members realized from the very beginning that today’s resolution did not guarantee any of these projects but merely paved a path for all of them to return to the commission for approval at a later point in time. The only time sensitive resolution fully moving forward after today’s vote was the Port of Miami Tunnel, already previously approved by the County. Below is a copy of the speech I presented to the commission:
My name is Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal; I am a transportation engineer, urban planning student, and local sustainable planning advocate from transitmiami.com. I am here today to voice my unconditional support for the plan sitting before you; a plan that will revolutionize the city of Miami and will make urban life a real possibility for more county residents.

Miami Streetcar
The Miami streetcar will serve a vital role in the future development of our city. It will serve as an economic catalyst for the entire county by guaranteeing mobility where it is needed most; our downtown core. Contrary to the suburban sprawl most of this commission voted in favor of a few weeks prior, the streetcar will allow the county and city to continue growing in an ecologically and financially sustainable manner for years to come. I cannot begin to quantify the economic benefits our entire community will experience through this measure. Most importantly, the streetcar provides the means with which to construct some truly affordable housing, located within easy reach and facilitating life not governed by the economic constraint of owning a vehicle for personal independence.

Port Tunnel
The benefits the port of Miami tunnel will provide are twofold: providing direct easy access to and from our second largest economic engine and perhaps more importantly, ridding our newly emerging downtown urban center of the traffic, smog, and noise pollution produced by these vehicles daily. The reduction of these nuisances in our city center will foster a hospitable urban environment.

An unprecedented resolution sits before you today aimed at simultaneously solving some of the transit, infrastructure, and societal needs of this community. As is the case with most plans of this size, it isn’t without its share of flaws; however, the economic and intangible benefits these upgrades will produce should be enough to outweigh any of your reservations. I ask that the commission take the necessary steps today to propel Miami into a new, sustainable future.


Streetsblog: London street closings a resounding success

Huffington Post: Fighting fat and climate change

George Monbiot: The western appetite for biofuels is causing starvation in the poor world

Miami Herald: Push for Miami port tunnel funding begins

Miami Today News: Soccer may join Marlins on Orange Bowl land

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The Marlins’ stadium saga just continues to get weirder and weirder. According to the Herald, it appears that despite the availability of $50 million that would’ve otherwise gone toward refurbishing the Orange Bowl, it is likely a large funding gap will remain for stadium construction.

Apparently, Marlin’s owner Jeffrey Loria still isn’t isn’t pleased with the Orange Bowl site, and is threatening to reduce his funding contribution for a stadium to be built on that site. From the Herald:

Hernandez said the club is looking to cut its contribution out of concern that building a new stadium on the site of the Orange Bowl — a plan that has gathered support recently among city and county leaders — would not be as profitable as the downtown site that the team prefers.

Some people (including myself) feel that Loria has been stingy with his proposed funding contributions, but in this case he’s right to be concerned about the shortcomings of the Orange Bowl site.

To further complicate matters, construction costs are steadily rising due to the increasingly small window available to finish construction for the new stadium by 2011, when the Marlins hope to be moved in. If all this isn’t enough, it is now being estimated that “road improvements” slated for the area surrounding the Orange Bowl could cost as much as $12 million.

As commissioners lose patience with the stadium deal, Vice Chairman Sanchez sponsored a resolution Thursday calling for an updated stadium plan by a December 13th deadline. He even wants the team to go public before then to announce their commitment to the Orange Bowl site. This ought to be very interesting (as if most political/capital decisions in Miami aren’t).

Photo courtesy of the Miami Herald

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If you are a hurricane fan, turn away; this article isn’t for the feint of heart. I’m going to try and put my Gator sentiments aside as I write this, but I can’t guarantee there won’t be any bias. I went to the Hurricane-Georgia Tech game last weekend in the orange bowl to bid my own personal farewell to the iconic venue. Although I wasn’t there for the game, more so to take in the sights, sounds, and experience, I couldn’t help but find myself rooting for the home team. The game is beside the point, as an engineer and someone who cares about the social aspects of the OB, I was there more for the atmosphere than anything else.

To state it plainly, I can clearly see why the decision was made to move the hurricanes from the OB to that stadium up north (which changes names every month or so…) The OB is a worn down venue, clearly lacking the infrastructure to support a college team as the once almighty U. The bathrooms are unkempt, the alumni skyboxes are inexistent, and the whole place appears to be crumbling to pieces; all of which reflect poorly on the city with regards to effective maintenance and refurbishment. Like the Miami Marine Stadium, it was almost as if they were hoping it would fall apart on its own to give enough of valid reason to reinvent a new use for the property.

However, the OB still offers the University an intangible benefit that the $1 Million or so they will gain from moving up north just can’t buy: tradition. Experiencing a game like this now after I have experienced games in “real” college venues (notice the quotes, don’t take it as an insult) is a shock. I now fully understand why UM so easily turned its back on “tradition” and chose to move to a slightly more profitable venue: because UM simply has no tradition. Go ahead and argue my point, but the tunnel and C.A.N.E.S. Canes! simply don’t qualify…The atmosphere in the stadium was insipid; the crowd lacked the spirit and comradery that nearly any other university has to offer (don’t blame it on the small college town/big city differences.) The stadium was unusually quiet when the defense was on the field; at times it seemed like my UF and FSU friends were the only one making noise.

Overall I can’t help but feel for the venue that could have been; there is too much history, too many wide rights to simply watch this place fall to pieces. Visiting and experiencing the OB one last time has given me a new perspective on UM’s decisions, however, it only made me further question the direction of the city and the reasoning for constructing another stadium in this neighborhood…With regards to tradition; I’ll let you know how things go this weekend in Tallahassee, I can guarantee a huge difference…

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There is a great read today up on the MiamiHerald by Larry Lebowitz titled: Why OB is a Lousy Site for Marlins. Take a second a check it out, he voices many of the same positions we’ve been pushing here on Transit Miami… An excerpt:

Tri-Rail isn’t much of an option. It’s a pain to get from the Miami Airport Station to the Orange Bowl today. Even if Miami-Dade Transit created a straight-shot, game-day shuttle from the Tri-Rail station to the OB, how many baseball fans to the north would use it?

Metrorail will only appeal to hard-core urban dwellers. It’s a little over a mile — too far to walk for most pampered, crime-fearing locals — from the closest Metrorail stations on the north side of the river to the Orange Bowl.

Barring some unlikely seismic political changes at County Hall, no one will be trying to shift billions of transit dollars to expand Metrorail near the OB in the near future.

What about a streetcar that could shuttle fans from downtown transit hubs?

Right now, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz can’t muster a three-vote majority of commissioners to support a streetcar in downtown, Wynwood, the Design District and Allapattah — all on the opposite side of the river from the stadium.

A ballpark in downtown would be closer to I-95, Metrorail, Metromover, and a proposed light-rail system on the Florida East Coast corridor that one day could shuttle fans from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

The economics and politics might be tougher, but an accessible, pedestrian-friendly downtown stadium makes the most sense.

-Larry Lebowitz

It’s a sad day for Miami; a loss for our sports history, the loss of a national icon, it’s the end of an era. The University of Miami has committed a grave miscalculation today. Giving up the Orange Bowl for the sake of what will ultimately become a pittance in increased revenue will prove catastrophic. You don’t trade in years of tradition on a whim (they don’t come back so quickly either.) I’m not a hurricane, in fact far from it, I’ll be there at Joe Robbie (I’m going back to its original name seeing that Huizenga announced an upcoming name change again) in 2008 cheering on my beloved Gators. But if there is one piece of advice I could extend to the University of Miami, it’s that you should never underestimate the power of tradition and the home-field advantage of a raucous crowd. The stands of Joe Robbie will barely quiver. The 76,500 seat stadium will appear cavernous and the once venerable Miami Hurricane Venue will no longer serve as a source of agony for opponents.

What’s more, with the loss of the UM presence at the Orange Bowl, the venue will no longer serve a useful purpose since its inception in 1936. Already discussions are underway to tear down the legendary stadium and construct a new home for the Marlins. I cannot begin to explain how terrible of a location this would be for such a demanding scheduled sport such as baseball. Conveniently isolated from urban transit and existing downtown parking facilities, the new ballpark would be secluded in a predominantly residential neighborhood. Close enough to entice downtown workers to want to attend games, but just far enough from preventing them from walking down the street or hopping on the Metromover. Plans aren’t even on the drawing boards to bring reliable transit into the area anytime soon and I can imagine any further Miami Streetcar plans would be sabotaged. We’ll be left with a massive new stadium for the Marlins, accessible only by vehicle and surrounded by suburban like structures. Continuing our legacy of urban planning disasters built by politicians with no legitimate foresight…

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  • Free Dunkin Donuts on Thursday if you participate in the Commuter Challenge Day by riding Tri-Rail…Or, you could just print this voucher and go to your nearest Dunkin Donuts, but I’d still recommend giving the train a try…
  • On that Note, with regards to Ryan’s Post on the absence of a regional farecard system, Larry Lebowitz, the transportation Guru at the Miami Herald, has informed me that MDT, BCT, Palm Tran, and the SFRTA are working together to implement such a system soon. Apparently the hold up is coming from the SFRTA. I’ll be working to obtain more information on the subject…
  • Great Ideas, now just agree to build the darn thing downtown…

As if the Marlins’ Stadium conundrum couldn’t get any more ludicrous, a few articles appeared in the Miami Today adding multiple new dimensions to the problems at hand. Where should I begin? As you may recall, the Marlins last week asserted their position that a downtown facility would be ideal; it would give the team the greatest chance of success in Miami and would make sense from an urban planning perspective given that it would be easily connected to metrorail, tri-rail, I-95, and the downtown businesses. It appears that our most asinine commissioner, Natacha Seijas, known for such wonderful remarks as: “I don’t see why we need to be creating an environment so they can continue…” when speaking about protecting manatees or “Today is the day that you might just leave here in a body bag if you keep it up…” which she remarked at a county Commission meeting, is once again the forerunner to speak out against the Marlins’ latest statements (Click here for a video of Seijas.) Here is what the Miami Today reported:
SELF-INFLICTED BEANBALL: Miami-Dade County Commissioner Natacha Seijas says the Florida Marlins hardly helped themselves over the weekend with their insistence that the team’s stadium be built downtown on a site designated for the county’s new juvenile-justice center. The team’s comments were a “completely and absolutely offensive” brushback of the county’s children, Ms. Seijas said Tuesday during a meeting of the commission’s Governmental Affairs and Operations committee. “The Marlins need to be more respectful when interviewed on TV. They need to be more respectful of the children’s courthouse.”

Ok, so Natacha Seijas has no clue what she’s talking about, right? Big Deal? Well, yes it is a big deal because she’s one of our Fab 13 who will be deciding where we will one day place the stadium in question. Given her take on the manatee, I’m sure she’d have no qualms with paving over everglades to accommodate anything…

In any case, like I mentioned above the stadium issue has gotten more complex. Now Michael Cannon, a “real-estate researcher” whatever that is, is declaring that the new Marlins’ stadium should be constructed on the Melreese Golf Course property. Sure, it would be next to the Miami Intermodal center, but, why complicate that project any further, FDOT has been constructing it since the late 90’s and we’ve yet to see any considerable progress. The Marlins’ stadium belongs in the city center which a new MLB drawing will soon depict, according to Miami Today:

COMING SOON: Major League Baseball is preparing a schematic of a stadium as it would appear in the proposed downtown location. “As soon as they have something formalized, they’ll bring it to us,” Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez said in a committee meeting Tuesday. The Florida Marlins want a retractable-roof ballpark with 37,000 seats and 60 suites to be built on nine acres of county- and city-owned land just north of the county government center north of Northwest Second Street, east of Interstate 95 and west of Metrorail. Commissioners have been reluctant to give full backing of the downtown location. “I know there are not seven votes here for this site,” Mr. Martinez said at a Tuesday meeting of the Government Affairs and Operations Committee. The favored plan is to replace the Orange Bowl with a ballpark.

Things can’t possibly get any worse, right? Try again. Plans also resurfaced at a recent commission meeting by Jose “Pepe” Diaz to analyze a “Bayfront” park idea. That’s Bayfront as in Bicentennial Park, the same park slated to for the new home of the MAM and Museum of Science, apparently chop liver and easily moved to sites elsewhere…Apparently it doesn’t matter if MAM has already contracted Herzog and DeMuron to design their new complex. The Millions spent thus far on plans to recreate Bicentennial into Museum Park also seem to be dispensable, after all, its only taxpayer money and there seems to be a never ending supply of it, why not keep wasting it? The Bayfront idea will never fly. We voted to create bonds to establish a cultural icon on the site, not another waterfront sports venue.

BACK TO THE BAY: Some formerly favored sites for a stadium haven’t been discarded, county commissioners say. Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz said he has asked County Manager George Burgess to give further study to putting the ballpark on the Biscayne Bay front. “I’ve asked him to look at it,” Mr. Diaz said, though he said he doubts a bayfront site is viable. The 29-acre Bicentennial Park, designated for a pair of museums, got a passing mention Tuesday. “If the city somehow has a change of mind, then that location would be back on the table,” Mr. Diaz said. Also back on the table, he said, would be the problem of parking. That’s been a major challenge for the bayfront Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, he said, and would be an even bigger one for planners of a ballpark on the bay.

Parking not the issue, not building any parking to along with the Carnival Center is the problem, which was under development since the 80’s…That’s the problem. Museum Park should feature underground parking, beneath the museum structure, with enough parking for some, but not all of the Museum Park visitors. The point is to provide some parking and some public transit, but just little enough to price people into not driving…

What is so incredibly difficult about agreeing on a single location for the Marlins’ stadium? Why can’t the Commission show some solidarity? One is discussing the orange bowl site while another asks for research on the Bayfront site and I’m sure someone else is still fixated on the Hialeah plan. There may very well be 13 different plans on 13 different sites floating around the Commission chambers. Heck, they’re not even sure of why it shouldn’t go in downtown. It’s amazing how hypocritical they are, somehow the Children’s courthouse poses as an insurmountable obstacle to placing the stadium downtown, but yet the two iconic museums and parks can be easily relocated elsewhere…Go figure!

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It’s hard to believe that the Marlins’ stadium saga could get even more bizarre (well, maybe not that hard to believe). Now Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has come out opposing the Orange Bowl site, saying that a downtown site is the team’s sole focus and the only viable location for a new stadium in South Florida. From the Herald’s article on Saturday:
  • Loria: A downtown setting “would be much more beneficial to the franchise and fans…it’s very easy to get to…we must get it done”.
  • Team President David Sampson: “Our sole focus is completing a deal downtown.”
Wow. First of all, I’m a little curious as to why it took so long for Loria to come out publicly in support of the downtown site, especially given the adamant tone of his language. Secondly, if he felt this way all along, which is how it sounds, then this likely means the county commission has not only gone against good urban planning, history, and common sense in pushing for the Orange Bowl site, but they’ve also been pushing a site the team owner is not even interested in.

Predictably, the county commission reacted to Loria’s and Sampson’s statements with concern. Commission Chairman, Bruno Barreiro, stated “We’re just trying to get money from the state…we can’t get distracted by the site issue.” Oh, really? Well, if I had a vote on whether or not to allocate state funds to the construction of a new baseball stadium, I would certainly be more inclined to vote yea if I knew specifically where the building site was located, especially if it was in downtown Miami. But don’t take it from me. State Representative David Rivera, who ultimately controls the flow of legislation for House Speaker Marco Rubio, said “There might be a lack on consensus to build at the Orange Bowl.” Rivera then offered his support for a downtown stadium.

The really disconcerting piece form the article actually came from a commissioner who is now in support of the downtown site. “Commissioner Carlos Gimenez…was one of the strongest proponents of the Orange Bowl site (last month). Now, after studying transportation issues, he says it’s no longer his first option. ‘For me, I think baseball would work better in an urban, downtown site, he said’.” Holy cow! So apparently we have commissioners advocating for a Marlins’ stadium at the Orange Bowl without even studying the project’s transportation issues! That is just unacceptable. It’s pretty tough to debate the merits of a downtown Miami site versus an Orange Bowl site for a new stadium without studying, comprehending, or even considering transportation issues, for that matter. If the Herald piece is accurate, we have county commissioners making major decisions and guiding policy without even examining some of the most important, relevant details. At least he had it in him to change his mind. We’re still waiting for the rest of the commission to stop going against the grain (and logic, and history, and urban planning, and best practice, etc.).

Well, it’s been a busy last couple of days with planning news…
  • Three bills proposing to give the Marlins a $60 million dollar subsidy to bridge the funding gap for the new stadium easily made it through the state Senate and House committees on Thursday. While the baseball fans in Miami-Dade and Marlin stakeholders should be excited by early popularity of the proposed bills with the state House and Senate, it appears Broward legislators have a bad case of sour grapes over the stadium location. Broward senators are leading the charge against the stadium funding because they’re upset the proposed stadium sites are not located in the suburbs near county line. Speaking of the stadium site, there still has been no settlement; however, it appears the Orange Bowl plan is unfortunately still gaining steam.
  • FDOT is planning on making major “improvements” to I-95 between Ft. Lauderdale and downtown Miami. The proposal calls for the replacing the current HOV lanes with two HOT lanes (High Occupancy Toll) in each direction. Newly installed computer sensors on the highway would measure traffic volume and average speed, which would allow the system to increase or decrease the toll fees in the HOT lanes based on how much congestion there is. Drivers wishing to use HOT lanes would use a prepaid toll card like the SunPass. I’ve never been much of a fan of these “Lexus Lanes”, but I’ll let Gabe elaborate on the issue as he is the resident transportation engineer of the group.
  • Miami-Dade Transit director Roosevelt Bradley was forced to resign last night. Apparently, Bradley is one of the first casualties of Mayor Alvarez’s new powers to hire and fire administrators at County Hall. According to the Herald, Bradley, who took over Miami-Dade Transit in 2002, was inefficient as a boss and oversaw massive deficits under his rule. We’ll keep posting any updates as soon as we hear who might be the next director.

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