With two weeks to go in the Florida Legislature's session, once again, the Marlins are fighting to get state subsidies through a floor vote. Now, with the bill one step short of chamber floors, some are wondering if the bill will survive. This year, however, there is help from a source that has not backed the subsidy prior: the governor. As reported by the Palm Beach Post:
"I come to it with a bias. I have to admit that upfront," Gov. Charlie Crist said. "Sports is a great outlet for our people. Not everybody loves their job during the day. And to have an outlet like that is a healthy thing, I think."
Yet, Crist and other backers may face an uphill battle when it comes to selling the new stadium as a method to spur economic development. The state's Revenue Estimating Conference, the four economists who work for the legislature and the governor, have disputed that claim, as have nearly every economist that had examined stadium development in markets where franchises already exist.
The main issue maybe how subsidies for the Marlins were tapped in the first place. As further reported:
The main problem for the Marlins through the years has been that the team owner who received the first $2 million annual subsidy the legislature awarded for a stadium has since sold the Marlins but kept the stadium. The subsidy that began in 1993 will continue to flow to initial Marlins owner H. Wayne Huizenga's Dolphin Stadium for 16 more years, whether the Marlins stay there, move to a new Florida stadium or even leave the state.
Lawmakers from other parts of the state haven't been willing to give the Marlins a second subsidy if their own local teams were not getting a second one - which is how the idea to double every pro team's subsidy to $4 million started winning more support this year. The idea originally was crafted by former Tampa Bay Lightning lobbyist Brian Ballard last spring.
With two weeks left there is plenty of time to get a deal done. The question is, is there the will?
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