Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Orange Bowl or Government Center?

Well, it seems as if there's a lot of momentum at county hall to get the Marlins stadium deal done. Miami-Dade County commissioners voted overwhelmingly (11-1) yesterday to back a plan that would keep the Marlins in the county. The question is where should it be built. Several of the commissioners expressed interest in using the site the Orange Bowl currently sits on as opposed to the site near the government center downtown which has been recently discussed.

Both sites have their advantages and drawbacks. Here's how I see it:
Government Center, pro
Public land, does not require additional land purchase
Near major expressways and existing rapid transit
Plenty of parking in the vicinity
Downtown locations are the trend for baseball
Could help make downtown area more viable after dark (in conjunction with the American Airlines Arena and Carnival Center for the performing arts)

Government Center, con
Site is small (only 9 acres) which will limit the footprint and configuration of the ballpark
Parking revenues will be lost to surrounding lots and garages
Site was planned location of new Childrens Courthouse, need to find a suitable new location

Orange Bowl, pro
Public land, does not require additional land purchase
Site is big enough to fit new ballpark once Orange Bowl is razed
Enough land to for significant amounts of on-property parking

Orange Bowl, con
Access via car is more limited than government center
Nearest rapid transit stop is Culmer, shuttle buses or new metromover would be needed
Overflow parking would be on private residential property (one of the hassles associated with the Orange Bowl)
Orange Bowl and UM football is a sacred cow for some
It's a really hard decsision. I think that the Orange Bowl site probably causes the least amount of headaches for the powers that be. Controlling parking and the related revenues is a big deal. Also finding other public land to build the Childrens Courthouse is a big deal. If the Orange Bowl is torn down, money that was earmarked for its renovation would become available for the ballpark project. So I can see why the commissioners like the OB site.

But, as a resident of the county and a baseball fan, a downtown ballpark is much more attractive to me. I can envision a time 5 or 10 years down the road where downtown isn't a ghost town after dark. Where there are bars and clubs open into the wee hours of the night. Where there is shopping and dining. In short, a true downtown instead of a haven for bums and drug addicts. Call it gentrification if you like but it's OUR downtown too and we should be able to be proud of it.

Either way, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

7 comments:

Songuacassal said...

I would have to be in support of building the new stadium near the Government Center. I know for instance that here in Chicago, the uptown Wrigley Field area is thriving with sports bars, shops, and whatnot. And though Millenium Park is not affliated with any sports, once it was built in Downtown Chicago, the entirely dead downtown night life became converted almost over night. These kind of buildings have the power to transform and build up an area: I can clearly see this happening in Miami's downtown area as well. This would indeed fit nicely with American Airlines Arena and the Carnival Center for the performing arts (not to mention Bayside.)

photi said...

One quickie picky comment...during 'Canes games a shuttle is run from the Orange Bowl to Metrorail from the Culmer station, which is one stop south of Jackson and on the same side of the river. Still it's much much less convenient as compared to what the Gov. Center site would be.

Henry Gomez said...

Correction duly noted.

Jose Grana said...

THE PERFECT SITE FOR THE FLORIDA MARLINS STADIUM IS TROPICAL PARK.
THERE IS ALREADY A STADIUM THERE THAT NO ONE USES. PLENTY OF PARKING. PUBLIC LAND. EASY PALMETO EXPRESSWAY ACCESS. VERY NEAR TO WHERE THE MARLINS FANS ARE. THEY WILL GO ON FOOT TO THE MARLINS GAMES, WHILE NOW THEY HAVE TO DRIVE 20 MILES TO SEE THEM, AND CHOOSE BECAUSE OF THIS TO WATCH THE CAMES ON TV.
IT'S TROPICAL PARK OR NOTHING.
WHO WANTS TO DRIVE DOWNTOWN?

Henry Gomez said...

The stadium at tropical park is used for high school football games and minor league soccer. Besides it's a community park. What you are suggesting is never going to happen. Access to the stadium would be a nightmare. To answer your question about who wants to drive downtown, for one people who work downtown. Also don't the Heat play downtown?

Anonymous said...

Picking up on the Wrigley Field comment, imagine the Orange Bowl site for the Marlins. The whole area around the park would become filled with retail and commercial development and maybe condo high-rise development. Wrigley has so much to offer and is nowhere near downtown Chicago. I can see Little Havana developing like Wrigleyville, only the City of Miami will be able to add parking decks to the area. Unlike the City of Chicago, space is at a premium in Wrigleyville, with the Orange Bowl site it has so much more possibility. Think Coconut Grove meets Wrigleyville.

Vallerie said...

Well said.