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Thank You, Mr. Huizenga

From Greg Cote's column in the Miami Herald on Wayne Huizenga's selling of half the Dolphins:

Bottom line, though, nobody mattered more in making South Florida major-league in sports.

Say what you will about Wayne Huizenga, but you might consider starting with, ``Thank you.''

Yes, thank you Wayne.

Thanks for bringing us baseball so could bleed it dry. After starting the Marlins, you hired a dream team of lobbyists to persuade the Legislature to give you $60 million to help make your football stadium baseball-friendly. Spread out over 30 years, you'll be getting $2 million a year on that deal until 2023. The beauty of it: You don't even have to show how you spent the money and you convinced the politicians you lavished with campaign contributions (remember Jailbird Jenne?) to alter the law so you could spend it on football. Brilliant, sir, absolutely brilliant.

Thanks for making a mockery of America's Pastime and disgracing all of us in the process. When your 1997 Marlins team was winning the World Series, you were screaming and yelling that you were losing $34 million. That was all selective economics, though, since you actually made $13 million (including the fat stadium revenues). There was a method to your whining: You wanted to pressure the public to build you a nice big baseball stadium. When it became clear we weren't going to finance your empire, you dismantled the championship team in a fit, putting an historic blight on baseball. Then you sold the team for a fat profit.

Thanks for gouging the Marlins at your stadium after you sold them, sticking them with one of the worst leases in the history of baseball.

Thank you for hoodwinking Broward County into building you a $185 million hockey stadium on the edge of the Everglades. In return for the gift, you promised to share your profits with us. But you were smarter than the commissioners you lavished with campaign contributions. You stipulated that the stadium would get the first $14 million in profits before we saw a dime. And guess what? The stadium has pulled in tens of millions of profits while the taxpayers who paid for it have seen less a few hundred thousand dollars.

And thank you for running the Dolphins into the ground Cote buys your line that you're doing this because, at 70, it's time to move on. Sure. The guy you sold to, Stephen M. Ross, is only 67, after all, a mere child. Cote says you gave up your ego to do this, but we know it was your ego that made you sell. Your Dolphins turned in one of the worst seasons in the history of football, after all. And the 1-15 year came right after you renovated the stadium and jacked up ticket costs for your poor sucker fans. Plus, now you can focus more on forcing working-class people out of their homes in Riviera Beach so you can build a luxury yacht club for your filthy rich peers.

And thanks Wayne, most of all, for taking a big step toward ending your involvement in South Florida sports. You've got your money -- now maybe we can start getting our soul back.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman