The owner of the Marlins got to first base with us last year when he said he'd keep the team here and, in order to do it, build a new baseball stadium himself. No sales tax or tourist room tax needed for this self-made gazzillionaire who thrived in the free-enterprise system as a commodities trader. Once on base John Henry slid back a bit by saying he would ask for taxpayer support to do it but not demand it. Sports franchise owners rarely show such timidity in putting their hands out.
Haven't heard much from Henry lately about how he'll privately finance the proposed $300 million retractable-dome stadium. Perhaps it's because civic leaders, including those in Fort Lauderdale, are falling all over themselves in anxious anticipation of bringing a shiny new stadium to their city. Henry, being a sharp trader, has no problem spotting an easy buck and an anxious buyer. City officials were already trying to get taxpayer money for the refurbishment of the old Fort Lauderdale stadium for spring training; just imagine dangling a major league baseball stadium in front of their drooling mouths.
Pure speculation on the city's part? Possibly just another example of Miami wannabe? Hardly. It seems some mysterious speculators have already invaded the neighborhood on the near north side looking for a spot to build an inner-city stadium like Baltimore's Camden Yards and have spoken to one of the biggest political wheeler-dealers in Broward about selling some of his land in the neighborhood.
Jesse Gaddis, who's often called a taxi mogul by the media (and a consummate political insider by us), has old vans and cars sitting in lots on Federal Highway and NE Sixth Street that would be easy enough to move. Gaddis has also pumped bunches of bucks into political campaigns and is buddies with major league Broward politicos such as Sheriff Ken Jenne and Commissioner John Rodstrom. We're not predicting another Port Everglades giveaway here; after all, the city would be in charge. But we have a feeling that whatever Jesse wants, Jesse will get as far as a price on that land. And some sweeteners to cement the deal.
Imagine all the powerful friends in his skybox on opening day.
Over the last year, Hallandale Commissioner Arthur J. Rosenberg has been campaigning hard to add some sizzle to his burg's rather staid and (shall we be brutally truthful? yes, let's) COMA-INDUCINGLY BORING moniker. But now it seems as if Rosenberg's getting impatient.
At the monthly meetings of the Broward League of Cities, Rosenberg has taken to formally introducing his hometown as the marginally sexier-sounding "Hallandale Beach," sources say. Unfortunately, when you toss bullshit at a roomful of long-time politicos, you should expect to get it tossed back at you.
The normal reaction has been for everyone in the room to teasingly follow Rosenberg's lead, thus relabeling the Broward County map and announcing new names for their hamlets, such as:
"Coral Springs by the Sea."
"Lauderhill -- No Beach, Not Even a Hill."
"Tamarac, Which Doesn't Need No Stinkin' Beach."
"Oakland Park, Which Used to Have a Beach but Gave It Away" (to Fort Lauderdale).
And our personal favorite, "Wilton Manors, We Don't Need a Beach, We're an Island Already."
-- as told to Tom Walsh
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