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.
Consider the following excerpt from the Herald:
Miami-Dade voters strongly oppose spending tax dollars on a baseball stadium and other projects in a $3 billion public works plan, but would back spending on local schools, a new poll shows.
The survey of 800 Miami-Dade registered voters suggests the public is reluctant to spend local tax dollars for ”luxury items” during an economic slowdown, said Sergio Bendixen, whose Bendixen & Associates conducted the poll.
I’m going to go ahead nip this one in the bud before anyone grabs it and runs with it. The money (Note: vast majority, not all) earmarked for the Miami Megaplan is allotted for the sole use of the intended individual projects.
If Miami does not utilize the $500 million FDOT is providing for the tunnel project, the funds cannot be diverted to education, healthcare, or any other sector. FDOT will simply reallocate the funds to another or various transportation projects in other counties within the state. Our loss.
Now about the stadium. That funding, 90% of the county’s share according to County Manager George Burgess, is coming from the tourist and convention development taxes. Tax money, which once again, can only be used for programs that will stimulate more tourism within the Miami-Dade County area.
CRA Money? Care to take a guess? Yep. This money can only be used for the improvement of the redevelopment districts.
Now, before we start crying foul about the Miami Megaplan or any other infrastructure upgrades in these self imposed difficult economic times, perhaps we should stop and consider where this funding is coming from and what we are permitted to do with it in the first place. I find it rather irresponsible of Bendixen & Associates to perform such a rash survey without considering the complex funding restrictions.
Bendixen noted that the poll didn’t ask voters’ opinions of the projects, just the funding mechanism. ”Voters aren’t saying they don’t like the ideas, they don’t think these projects are good investment for tax money,” he said.
And clearly failed to consider how exactly these funding sources work…
Voters were even more opposed to paying for construction of a new museum park at Bicentennial Park in downtown Miami. The poll found 66 percent of respondents found it a ”bad investment” for the county; while 29 percent considered it a “good investment.”
Guess what folks? We had the chance to vote on this one already. We approved the bond deal that enabled its funding. Besides if we’re in such a dire need to improve our education, why not build these institutions of higher learning? Every great city has large museums to compliment the classroom components of learning…
- A Town in Germany has decided to handle its traffic problems by removing all the traffic signals. The plan is to remove all signals in the city center to make life easier for pedestrians, evening the playing field and forcing traffic to no longer dominate the roads.
Meanwhile Columbia, Missouri Business owners and a local developer are upset that the federally funded PedNet program will hamper vehicular traffic in favor of friendlier pedestrian and bicycle options. Who knew?
“The concern for the business owners and anyone who lives in the area is that the intersection will be less friendly,” Lindner said. “And vehicular traffic is always going to be the major mode of transportation in Columbia, so you can’t ignore the impact on it. We should be trying to alleviate congestion, not do things to make it worse.”
- Discussions are underway about possibly merging the metropolises Hong Kong and Shenzhen into one Mega-City. The plan is being considered to make the region more competitive in the global market and to better link the existing cities.
- Burj Dubai has officially surpassed Toronto’s CN tower, making it the tallest free standing structure in the world at 555 meters and 150 stories. Like most things in Dubai, the buildings’ final height is a closely kept secret, but it is expected to rise between 750 and 800 meters…
- They say everything is bigger in Texas, but Arlington’s Public Transit system is the smallest for cities with 350,000+ inhabitants. Actually, Arlington doesn’t even have a Public Transit System, garnering it the distinction of the largest American city without one.
“Arlington residents have voted down a public bus system three times in the last 27 years, worried about big buses lumbering down their quiet suburban streets, as well as the cost of a service that many believe would benefit only a few. But advocates say the city’s growing population, coupled with the pain of higher gasoline prices, make buses an easier sell now.”
Sell? You shouldn’t have to sell anyone a public transit system. If they want to choke in their own congestion and sprawl then so be it. Let them degrade their own quality of life rather than spend money on a transit system in a city where people clearly don’t get “it.”
- The D.C. Council is working on some legislation which would make Bicycle parking a requirement at all apartment buildings with more than 8 units and 10% of automotive parking capacity at commercial establishments.
- This excerpt speaks for itself:
“The Minneapolis bridge collapse on Aug. 1 led Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters to publicly reflect on federal transportation spending priorities and conclude that those greedy bicyclists and pedestrians, not to mention museumgoers and historic preservationists, hog too much of the billions of federal dollars raised by the gas tax, money that should go to pave highways and bridges. Better still, Peters, a 2006 Bush appointee, apparently doesn’t see biking and walking paths as part of transportation infrastructure at all.”
- How about this for some adaptive reuse, a house made from the abandoned fuselage of a Boeing 747, designed by David Hertz:
- The Streetcar Debate…
- FAU trustees approved plans to build a 30,000 seat, $62 Million stadium for the Owls’ football team on the Boca Raton campus. Construction is set to begin in 2009.
- More reasons why converting every neighborhood into its own municipality is such a bad idea: identity crisis. The suburban bedroom community of Davie has been struggling to find itself for the past few years amid all the other South Florida “cities.”
- What do you do with 39 acres on the western fringes of development? Build a 600,000+ square foot warehouse facility! Just another reason why we need to adopt a county-wide comprehensive land use action plan.
- Here go the latest rounds in Transit Cuts…
“With all of the cuts, Transit will be down to 34 million annual miles of service. That’s seven million more miles, a 26 percent increase, that have been delivered since late 2002 when Miami-Dade County voters approved a half-cent sales-tax increase for transportation.
But it’s a whopping 10 million miles short of the 44 million miles that former Mayor Alex Penelas promised by 2008 during the campaign. The agency never got close, peaking at 38 million miles in December 2005 and paring back in three subsequent lineups.
In Transit’s defense, ridership has remained steady as the miles have been cut — an indicator that the planning and scheduling gurus aren’t sacrificing riders.”
- BoB’s 3rd Quarter Construction tour hits Miami Beach.
- 26th Parallel offers up some kind words on our efforts.
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.
It’s a sad day for
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…
- 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.”
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.).
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