It's the bottom of the ninth, and as usual, the Marlins are about to lose. Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel zips a fastball past a befuddled Miami hitter, notching another strike on the way to a 3-0 Braves shutout.

Just outside the center-field bathrooms, Steve Corbin clutches a Jose Reyes bobblehead to his chest, squints at the field, and shakes his head in disgust. The bald fan in a Marlins T-shirt has rooted for the Fish since the team opened up shop in Miami Gardens in 1993. This year, he's had time to see a dozen games at the team's gleaming new Little Havana stadium.

"The ballpark is great," Corbin says. Then he sighs heavily. "I just wish they hadn't completely screwed over taxpayers to build this thing."

Well, at least the stadium looks nice...
Daniel Korzeniewski /
Well, at least the stadium looks nice...

Location Info


Marlins Park

1380 NW 6th St.
Miami, FL 33125

Category: Retail

Region: Central Dade

Before the park opened, our sister paper Miami New Times counted down the six biggest lies the team's owners told to sell what we predicted would be the "worst deal for taxpayers of any stadium in America." Those falsehoods included absurd promises that the stadium would revitalize Little Havana, bogus pledges that fans would flock to games, and laughable claims that the Marlins would go bankrupt without the deal.

Now, as the team's first season on NW Sixth Street draws to a close this week, it's time to look back and confidently declare: This stadium has been a fiasco for the ages.

From dismal attendance to terrible baseball to none of the promised business impact on its struggling neighborhood, Marlins Park has tanked worse than chubby closer Heath Bell huffing and puffing through another blown save.

"The stadium has done nothing for the City of Miami," Little Havana activist Yvonne Bayona says. "Their promises were lies. This deal wasn't to benefit us; it was to benefit the team's owners."

Let's walk through the numbers that prove Marlins Park is South Florida's scam of the century:

Zero: Stadium revenue the Miami Marlins shared with Miami-Dade taxpayers — you know, the chumps who chipped in more than 70 percent of the $515 million cost to build the damned thing. Instead of revenue-sharing, Miami-Dade County has gotten a measly $2.3 million in rent, plus $40,000 toward building some new youth fields. The city — which floated $100 million in bonds — gets a whopping $10 per parking space at the team's garages plus $25,000 toward new parks.

One: Sellouts the team managed all year in its palacio de béisbol. The lone full house came opening night with the reigning World Series champs, the St. Louis Cardinals, in town. Jets boomed overhead, and former boxer Muhammad Ali shakily threw out the first pitch.

12: Of 16 National League teams, that's where the Marlins ranked in attendance. Team owner Jeffrey Loria promised that a retractable roof, air conditioning, and a home-run sculpture fit for a Timothy Leary class at Harvard would lure spectators in droves, yet the Fish are outdrawing only perennial dogs Pittsburgh, Arizona, and San Diego and the 100-plus-loss, historically bad Houston Astros.

One: New businesses that activists say have opened around the park. Politicos, such as then-Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez, promised time and again the stadium would bring "economic vitality" to a desolate edge of Little Havana that was left to rot after the Orange Bowl's demolition. Instead, the neighborhood has been treated to a single sports bar at NW 17th Avenue and Seventh Street, the Batting Cage, says Bayona. "It's still a ghost town when there's no game."

500,000: That's how many fewer fans flooded Little Havana to watch Loria's team this year than the Marlins owner had projected to deliver in the stadium's inaugural season. "Essentially, they spent $500 million and only lured a few hundred thousand extra fans," says Neil deMause, author of Field of Schemes, a book about modern stadium deals. "They could have just stood outside and handed out five-dollar bills to get people in the gates and accomplished about the same thing for a hell of a lot less cash."

Zero: Businesses that set up shop in the retail spaces inside Marlins Park's garages during the season. One selling point to the city in exchange for $100 million was that an "entertainment district" would pop up in the garages. So far, the city has zilch to show for that promise. Commissioner Frank Carollo claims the city is close to signing a lease with the Tilted Kilt, a sports bar staffed by scantily clad women. Art Noriega, chief executive officer of the Miami Parking Authority, tells New Times that a cigar company has signed a contract to open by next season. But Horacio Stuart Aguirre, chairman of the Miami River Commission, thinks other types of tenants — urgent care clinics and immigration attorneys — are more likely to lease at this point. "The whole thing was done badly," he told the Miami Herald last month.

2.2 million: Fans who passed through the turnstiles this year, the lowest season total for a team opening a new park since the 1982 Minnesota Twins, according to Forbes. Yeah, it's a nice boost from the bottom-of-the-barrel 1.5 million the team drew in its final year at Sun Life Stadium. But bragging about beating that total would be like taking pride in posting a better batting average than John Buck.

$38 million: Payroll Loria dumped by the end of July by shipping off Hanley Ramirez. Before the season, the Marlins owner upped their payroll to $95 million to help pay for stars Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle and Manager Ozzie Guillen. The spree came after being shamed by leaked financial documents showing he'd banked nearly $50 million in profit while pleading poverty. How? By taking the millions that richer baseball teams share with minnows like the Marlins and then putting them in his wallet instead of buying new sluggers. So much for the new Loria. With the season slipping, he shipped Ramirez, ace pitcher Anibal Sanchez, hot second-baseman Omar Infante, and set-up guy Edward Mujica out of town. Even worse, he's already promised that next year's team budget will be even lower.

$90 million: Increased value of the Marlins franchise this year, according to Forbes. If you pass through Southampton, New York, this fall and hear an ear-shattering cackling coming from a massive mansion, don't worry: It's just Loria rolling around naked in giant piles of cash. The team he bought for $158 million in 2002 is now worth $450 million, by Forbes' reckoning.

One: Protests by anti-Castro groups outside Marlins Park. After Guillen decided to celebrate his move to Little Havana by telling Time magazine he "respects" El Comandante, almost 200 hardliners wailed into megaphones and waved flags outside the team's second homestand.

52: Times that Red Grooms' eyeball-scorching sculpture in center field — nicknamed the "Tremenda Mierda Fountain" by New Times readers in an online poll — erupted with water spouts and flailing dolphins for Marlins home runs (as of Monday). Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that the Fish were 25th out of 30 teams in homers.

$2.4 billion: Estimated total cost to taxpayers, including ballooning interest rates, for Marlins Park.

Back at the team's penultimate home game last month, after the Marlins' final batter obediently grounded out to second to end another dismal night, black-clad fans shuffled toward the exits, happy at least to have gotten a bobblehead out of the game.

Locals have a hard time finding the good in the giant silver-and-white elephant looming over their blue-collar blocks, though. As the season winds down, residents like Ines Machado — who for 35 years has lived in a two-story home a block north of the stadium — can hardly turn a blind eye to the taxpayer-bleeding succubus looming outside her window. "I used to charge $70 a car to park on my lawn for Orange Bowl games. This place?" she says, gesturing at the ballpark. "This place has done nothing for us."

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frankd4 topcommenter

loria did not INVENT how to screw municipalities, he just followed the script - if it wasn't loria it would have been some other marlins owner - so that issue is a scarecrow

if the people of hialeah are unhappy with the results they have to live with they should simply vote OUT their representatives - period

otherwise everyone else knew that the small increment in through-the-turnstile attendance would come at a premium because the real reason for a roof to avoid weather delays is so TV can show the END of the game within the designated time slot paid for by advertisers

as for cataclysmic money being spent to revive communities, jane jacobs wrote all about that back in 1969, and why the past fifty years of development in the north end of boston isn't required study for municipal planners, i just don't know

it was a good effort to set up dumb comments about castro to incite media interest in a geo-political environment with a short fuse, and market and promote the buzz of the britto, and other attractions, including the roof, BUT the main event should be baseball - no ?

i personally think the area should have opted for more bi-lingual second grade teachers than second base baseball tallent but i guess that can be said by all the stakeholders of miami-dade schools



Awesome article which really doesn't expose anything new about Loria to me. I already knew he was a cheapskate owner all about his own profit.


Every one of these stadium projects are nothing more than a boondoggle.  The same thing happened in my former home town of St Louis when the Rams came to town and wanted a new stadium and again when the Cardinals wanted one as well.  I was just there a couple of weeks ago and the areas around both are nothing but a sea of closed business although both end up having far better attendance.

The only ones who benefit from these stadiums are the rich people who wanted them in the first place.  They get exactly what they want and never have to pay for it.

Just say no to these projects until they start footing the bill and pay attention to the fine print.  They are worse than used car salesmen.


The wonderfully written scathing attack fails to point out that the majority of the funds are coming from tourism taxes added to local hotel beds and not directly from Miamian's paychecks. If Miami citizens are sleeping at the Marriott then they are directly contributing yes, but I would say if the major point of the piece is about how "we are" subsidizing millionaire fat-cats, such as Loria, then Elfrink should at least get the facts out there for the readers to consider.  

Those funds, which are set aside to pay for convention business related costs, improvements and projects, were designed for making the city a more attractive destination to attract convention visitors (who also take taxis, sleep, dine, drink and generally spend money in Miami and fuel the economic engine of the area).  The idea of taxing visitors and getting a ballpark for the locals should have been the slogan all along.  I think the name of the park should be “Thanks New York”.  Cleary, the locals benefit from the ballpark more than visitors.  Still, I submit, funding a ballpark with any tax derived dollars that directly benefit millionaire owners with millionaire players never tastes good.    

The “build it and they will come” strategy was not a guessing game in fickle Miami, but rather a brilliant business deal struck by the owners.  Was anyone surprised by this?

So what is the answer now Elfrink?  Do you want a refund?  Will the tar and feathers routine shame Loria into changing his spots?  Hardly.  The most direct way the citizenry can pad the wallets of the owners is to actually go to a game.  I suggest you all go to a few games to at least get a feel for what you have not paid for directly but can actually enjoy.  If you don’t go, and you won’t because there is always something else to do in Miami, and even championship teams suffer here, then other baseball teams must share their pie with “revenue sharing”.  Loria wins either way. 


@C__Martinez @NewTimesBroward should of never tore down the OB

Danny Morin
Danny Morin

Gypped? FYI Gypped is a racial slur towards Gypsies.

frankd4 topcommenter



well according to your logic, and not to be argumentative as this is just an observation, the area around YANKEE STADIUM should then be a vibrant safe self-sustaining hub of major economic activity - no ? 


my last visit on a non-game day revealed a yet to be started promised playground, a prison and juvenile delinquent facility, a state courthouse and row upon row of delapidated housing on dirty streets with commercial establishments seeming to barely be holding on and while grans concourse is touting a revival for some time now that spark will be based on residential units with a proximity to midtown and downtown NYC itself


it would seem that the game attendees glide into and out of the ballpark in secured vehicles to the nearest escape on the closest parkway without even thinking about getting out of their cars in that neighborhood - now what makes that any different than hialeah ?


well when it comes to results ON the field i can say the YANKEEs have a distinct advantage of history over the MARLINs even at the current rate of extrapolation


on the other hand the "source" of tax revenue is NOT the issue and that marriott guest could care less if the room tax goes to a ballpark or a classroom - its the PEOPLE of miami that that should matter MOST to - the PEOPLE who live and work and play here


i think that is why the stadium, from a financial aspect, is much much more harm than good as required funds should have gone to quality of life matters such as schools and jobs training and econompic opportunity and security for miami-dade people - not a retractable roof to benefit a few


 @McTrouble its not like the tourist money couldn't have been spent on something better.  like a tunnel to port of miami cruise ships.  -oh wait.


@David__Alderman Your following list sucks…follow @LeBatardShow @Rizzmiggizz @byChrisJoseph @ByTimReynolds @BillyCorben @BenVolinPBP


@C__Martinez @LeBatardShow @Rizzmiggizz @byChrisJoseph @ByTimReynolds @BillyCorben @BenVolinPBP i just changed accounts my other was hacked


@David__Alderman Damn that's shitty…well it's a start for you. All great miami/UM guys