As the fight over public funding of a baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins plays out in court, Miami Arena owner Glenn Straub is touting his property as a late-inning alternative to the proposed Little Havana site.
Straub got city permission earlier this year to demolish the Miami Arena, which he purchased four years ago for $28 million. Straub has until Sept. 27 to knock down the pink-hued, white elephant, Miami city officials say.
The Palm Beach County investor wants the controversial stadium built on his 4.7 acres on North Miami Avenue between Northwest Seventh and Eighth streets, and he said he’s willing to finance part of the Marlins project to get it done.
In exchange, Straub said he would sign a 99-year lease with the city for the Little Havana land where the Orange Bowl stadium used to be. Straub said he would like to build a soccer complex and an equestrian center on the former Orange Bowl site.
He said the Marlins stadium belongs in downtown Miami, especially on the site of the old Miami Arena, former home of the Miami Heat basketball team that is steps away from a MetroRail stop. Straub said he would cover any construction funding shortfall the county and city might encounter. The cost of the roofed facility is now estimated at more than $500 million.
Straub said he hasn’t yet pitched his proposal with any city or county official.
When he does, chances are the plan will be declared a balk. Gilbert Cabrera, chief of staff for Miami city manager Pete Hernandez, said the city is committed to the Little Havana site.
“I don’t foresee Miami City commissioners approving a new location for the stadium,” he said.
Other Miami city officials have said they would like to see a Hollywood-type film studio on Straub’s site.
Whether the stadium will ever be built — anywhere — has yet to be decided by the outcome of a legal battle between auto dealer magnate Norman Braman and the city, county and Marlins. He is suing them for agreeing to finance the stadium with public funds without letting voters have a say.
Straub said he bought the arena with plans to hold it for 25 years, but said there are other options for the Overtown site. He said he is in talks with Wal-Mart and Cirque du Soleil to be tenants in a proposed building for the site. Wal-Mart has considered a site next to the Miami Herald building for a store.
— Paola Iuspa-Abbott