The Las Vegas Marlins

ESPN.com reports that the Florida Marlins are going to move to Las Vegas by the year 2011. This is the first time anything has been said that intimates the Marlins moving to Las Vegas, Nevada is a done deal, and yet has got relatively low press coverage.
Wayne Huizenga, the owner of Pro Player Stadium, where the Marlins currently play home baseball games at, has informed the Marlins that they will not welcome the Marlins back to Pro Player Stadium after 2010, when the lease expires. Marlins president David Samson wrote a letter to Florida House Speaker Allan Bense, informing him of the loss of Pro Player Stadium after 2010 and expressed the need for a new, retractable-roof stadium (retractable-roof to offset fan discomfort and rain delays, common in Florida) and would cost the taxpayers at least $60 million dollars. According to Bruce Rubin, spokesman for Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins and Miami City and Miami-Dade County-Dade officials are negotiating for a 38,000-seat stadium next to the Orange Bowl.
The $2 million a year for 30 years, paid through a sales tax subsidy, would allow the team to close the gap between the estimated cost of a new stadium and the money they have to start building. This is not the first time the Marlins have tried to get a new stadium. For years under former owner John Henry, now principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, the Marlins tried numerous times to get funding. Nothing ever transpired.
“They have informed us that they are leaving. We understand that they might stay until 2010, but that is not what I am hearing. I am hearing that they will be out before that,” said Huizenga. The reasoning behing the Marlins’ vacation from Pro Player Stadium is that it will allow Huizenga, the original Marlins owner and current Dolphins owner, to improve the stadium and stage other events that cannot be done while baseball is being played.
A month ago, the Marlins made a pitch to Las Vegas officials on moving to Las Vegas, which has been campaigning for a baseball team for quite a while. Bense said he is going to look into the issue, but Senate President Tom Lee was furious, saying “I thought that we already appropriated money to help them move to Vegas. I was very disappointed that they publicly announced the negotiations and discussions with Las Vegas, and I don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
Notwithstanding the term ‘terrorists’, it looks as if support from the congressional leaders is not overwhelming, and the above quotation leaks out a lot of information, the most interesting being that the state appropiated money to help the Marlins move to Las Vegas, meaning the Marlins are already on the way out. If the Florida Marlins cannot get the $60 million dollars it needs from the state to build a new stadium, it looks as if they already have the finances from the state and the backing of Las Vegas officials to move to Las Vegas.
The leader of the Las Vegas Sports and Entertainment (LVSE) LLC, Mike Shapiro said on September 29th, 2004 that even though Las Vegas had lost out to the Washington D.C. city in getting the Montreal Expos to move there, that Las Vegas had cemented itself as a viable market for a baseball team.
“I have been completely convinced that Las Vegas is an appropriate and viable, and potentially very successful, market for a major league team.”
The Florida Marlins have long struggled to improve fan attendance at games, something Las Vegas officials have said will improve in Las Vegas. Despite being in the playoff race all season long before losing out to the Houston Astros by six games, the Florida Marlins finished 27th in attendance in the 2004 season at a total of 1,723,105 . The leader was the New York Yankees at 3,775,292 and despite the Boston Red Sox having the smallest park in the majors, they finished 12th. The Marlins had an average of 22,091 fans attend the games this year, which is 62.1% of its total capacity, a year after the Marlins won the World Series.
In the World Series season of 2003, the Marlins finished 28th, with an average attendance of 16,290, with a total of 1,303,215 fans. Florida has two baseball teams and what has shown in the seven years the Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays have co-existed is that Florida is not a viable enough market to support two baseball teams at this juncture in time.
UPDATE: SENATOR TOM LEE BACKS OFF ‘TERRORIST’ REMARK, SAYS MARLINS TRYING TO BLACKMAIL FLORIDA