Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jan. 13: "Marlins" Park Also Belongs To the Community

By Sylvia Gurinsky

One issue that hasn't come up much in the debate over a new baseball stadium on Miami's old Orange Bowl site is what it's going to be used for when the Florida Marlins are on the road or in the off-season.

Presumably, the land is going to be available to everyone else to use, as the Orange Bowl was.

Unless the Marlins reach the postseason, they will play 81 games in the park and perhaps need it on the average of a week or two more - sometimes for workouts, sometimes for exhibition games, sometimes for community events. That will leave roughly 275 days, including virtually all of November through March, when the team will not use the park.

That will leave it available to everyone from high school teams to soccer leagues to concert promoters to rally organizers.

Remember - because this includes public money, it's also a public park.

On Sunday, a Miami Herald article indicated that the Orange Bowl rose from one of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal projects during the 1930s. Whoever played, spoke and performed there until its demolition early last year, it ultimately belonged to the community.

That's the sales pitch supporters of a new park need to use to keep the plan in place. So far, they haven't.

It might be a good way to keep the wavering support of Miami-Dade County commissioners. Promote those 275 days - or find the land being used 365 days for something the community doesn't need.

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