Tuesday, June 9, 2009

From the May issue of Poder Magazine:

Stadium Fever
If Miami history repeats itself, the $644 million budget for the Marlins’ new little Havana home won´t even be in the ballpark.

By Kirk Nielsen

In February 2000, when Miami-Dade’s Performing Arts Center was a field of dreams in architect Cesar Pelli’s mind, he told county commissioners it could be built for $186 million. The final tabulation was $446 million. Scholars who study overruns term this kind of low-ball estimating a strategic misrepresentation. In baseball, one form this phenomenon takes is the curveball. In other words, Pelli and the folks who managed the PAC’s construction threw the public a lot of curveballs.

Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess and his statisticians have calculated that the proposed 37,000-seat, retractable-roof ballpark slated to debut in Little Havana in 2012 will cost approximately $644 million. (That’s $515 million for the stadium, $94 million for parking garages, and about $35 million for infrastructure improvements like new water and sewer lines.) Florida Marlins, L.P., the private corporation that runs the baseball team, has signed on for about $155 million, or 24 percent, of it.

Only the manager’s most delirious fans could believe the project will stay inside that budget. Reasonable people, including him, know it’s just a ballpark figure. A baseline, if you will.

“The County’s exposure to overruns and other unexpected costs—while impossible to eliminate completely—has been dramatically reduced,” Burgess wrote to county commissioners in a March 23 memo that accompanied the stadium plan. They approved it the next day, 9-4. (The Miami City Commission also voted 3-2 in favor.)

Put more bluntly, the stadium project will cost more than $644 million. But how much more? Read on.

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