MARLINS STADIUMMarlins, Hialeah to talk about parkThe Florida Marlins have arranged a meeting with Hialeah's mayor to discuss building a stadium in the city.BY BARRY JACKSON REBECCA DELLAGLORIA AND ROBERT L. [email protected]
The Hialeah Marlins?
The Florida Marlins and Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina will meet next week to discuss the possibility of building a baseball stadium in the city, Robaina confirmed Wednesday night.
Robaina said Marlins representatives arranged the meeting. He mentioned three possible sites for a ballpark: Hialeah Park racetrack; an area west of Interstate 75 -- both privately owned; and Amelia Earhart Park, which is Miami-Dade property.
''Is it a long shot? I'm not looking at it as a long shot,'' Robaina said. ``I want to do everything possible to keep the Marlins in South Florida. I've been approached by residents and people in the community who have reached out to me.''
The Marlins confirmed next week's meeting but declined to comment further.
Not everyone in Hialeah is convinced the fledgling courtship is likely to turn into a committed relationship, however.
Hialeah Council President Esteban ''Steve'' Bovo said that while he would like to see the Marlins come to Hialeah, he wouldn't be surprised if Florida'a fifthlargest city was being used as a pawn in the club's quest for a permanent home.
''If the Marlins want to come to Hialeah, I will be the first guy cheerleading for this cause,'' Bovo said. But, ``I wouldn't put it past the Marlins to be using the city of Hialeah as a ploy to get the city of Miami moving on this issue, or somebody else.''
Alejandro Miyar, press secretary to Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, declined to comment.
In November, talks between Miami city officials and Marlins representatives formally fell through when the team announced it had received permission from Major League Baseball to talk to other cities about possible relocation. Team executives have already visited Portland, Ore., and San Antonio, Texas; other interested markets include Las Vegas, Charlotte, N.C., Monterrey, Mexico, and northern New Jersey.
The team also has been negotiating to build a stadium on Wayne Huizenga-owned land next to Dolphins Stadium, but those talks have stalled.
The project would cost more than $400 million, but the parties are believed to be about $80 million apart.
Until the Montreal Expos moved to the nation's capital and became the Washington Nationals last season, no Major League Baseball team had changed markets in 33 years.
The Marlins are committed to playing at Dolphins Stadium through the 2007 season but have said they won't stay beyond 2010.
Robaina said the Hialeah council would have the power to add a ballot item asking the city's voters if they want to contribute toward stadium financing.
''It's definitely an option,'' Robaina said, adding he would review any proposal before deciding whether to support it.
Robaina said in a 1999 straw ballot, 57 percent of voters said they would support trying to build a baseball stadium in Hialeah.
Council president Bovo works as an asset manager for the Brunetti Organization, whose principal, John Brunetti, owns Hialeah Park. Bovo said Wednesday he had not heard from his boss that the racetrack was being considered as a possible site for the stadium.
Aside from being privately owned, Bovo pointed out another obstacle with Hialeah Park as a potential site: Much of the storied racetrack is listed on the National Register for Historic Places, which protects it from renovations.
Miami Herald staff writer Michael Vasquez contributed to this report.