Back in the 90's, I had a spirited discussion with then Herald editor Tom Fiedler about the stadium. He was of the prevailing, "build it and they will come" school for a downtown Miami ballpark. My point of view was that overdevelopment and poor planning, combined with demographics, argued against any audience traveling on Miami roadways that had already driven them to distraction with long commutes.
A decade of experience trying to attract volunteers to mid-week meetings to be civic activists informed my perspective. It was no stretch of imagination to believe, then, that even if Miamians could afford to bring their families to baseball games mid-week, or weekends, that the horrendous traffic patterns would defeat the purpose. Nearly twenty years later I feel the same way about the Heat arena (and broken promises) and the Performing Arsht Center.
The Miami Herald could not be enlisted to support or even to give inches to illuminate this point of view. Lackluster leadership and the prospective value of its downtown real estate was too important to yield to a discussion about the havoc wrought by all those land use zoning changes by Greenberg Traurig, that national law firm that built its foundation converting farmland and wetlands to suburban sprawl.
It's the sprawl, and the platted subdivisions carved out for powerful campaign contributors and builders' lobbyists (LBA), and the failure to adequately invest in planned transit that has taxpayers and citizens choking on the costs of growth. The land use pattern of ring suburbs balkanized communities and inhibited the formation of civic involvement and civic pride.
The public response to the Miami Marlins, "how much more do you think we are going to pay?", has an answer -- you won't hear on network news. Even if you give us tickets for free, we are not climbing back into our cars after commuting an hour and a half to spend another hour and a half driving to the stadium and back. It is too bad Norman Braman can't be turned to this point of view, because he is so right on other parts of the message.
Taxpayers will spend more than $2 billion dollars to retire the public debt while Loria will fly away from Florida on his private jet with tens if not hundreds of millions in profit when the team is sold.