If We Build It …..They Will Come ………
Field_of_Dreams”>‘Field Of Dreams ‘ starring Kevin Costner , James Earl Jones and Amy Madigan. The Florida Marlins finally will have a home venue to call their very own. Albeit that it has come at a cost and the expense of having to work extensively to gain the trust of the city of Miami, Miami Dade County government and the state legislature.
And while the residents of the county and the city of Miami in particular might feel aghast at the fact in these dire economic times, a professional sports franchise will be obtaining a stadium. It can’t have escaped their notice that upon the franchise’s inception there were playing in the Miami Dolphins’ stadium . That being said the ownership carousel that has taken place since the franchise’s original owner
H D Wayne Huizenga hasn’t exactly been a welcoming one. The present owner of the franchise was able to obtain the franchise with a loan from Major League Baseball (MLB) at an exceptionally cheap rate. One has to remember also that he basically sold the to the league in order that franchise would survive. Survive ? Well the franchise was buried with the expediency of it being a rotting carcass.
The Expos were cocooned for several years before they returned to competitive play within the league in the guise of the Washington Nationals. The franchise itself at present in the midst of its own dilemma. The furor now surrounding Nationals’ player Esmailyn Gonzalez and the resignation of former GM Jim Bowden and that of his Special Assistant Jose Rijo leaves the franchise in the midst of an ongoing investigation by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation).
As to the Marlins it gives them the sense of purpose that they finally sought. In knowing that they’ll finally have a venue to call their very own and play within. For their entire existence they’ve played in a venue that wasn’t an all purpose baseball park . Unlike the rest of the franchises within the game. And it certainly hasn’t helped that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has done to make demands without ever having been able to come up with a solid solution for the franchise’s ongoing problems. He’s has been more about what he perceives is the image of the game than deal with many of the underlying issues that the game faces. And now we’ll be able to see whether or not he and the owners will have the acumen and insight to deal with the possible issues the game now faces with the uncertainty of the economic climate.
It’s almost certain that certain revenues streams will be down. And the game’s hierarchy will have to be totally reliant on the goodwill of their most loyal corporate sponsors and the fans most of all. For the Marlins this presents something of a predicament. As they’ve never been known to have a hotbed or rabid fans. If anything the fans that’ve remained loyal to the franchise have been the ones at the team’s inception. But with those days now far behind them it’s been a struggle for the franchise to have an adequate and active fan base. Rarely is there more than 15,000 in attendances for a home game. And one would be right to assume that the franchise is one of the least supported teams in terms of their home attendance . It also paints something of a poor picture as to the support that the game receives from the fans in South Florida. The Dolphins has and will always hold sway within the tri county area of Broward , Miami Dade and Palm Beach County. But yet the fans turn up with about as much frequency as Halley’s comet. It’s indeed a sad indictment of franchise other than the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have been the only franchise in the game to have won multiple World Series over the last thirteen years.
As to the team in its present format is built primarily on a core group of young player with a sprinkling of veteran talent to provide stability and leadership. Perhaps no other player on the team is better known than Hanley Ramirez. He’s a premier talent whose star is on the rise within the game. And with manager Fredi Gonzalez there to guide this team on the bench. This is a team that will have its work cut out for them this season not only in the National League East. And having to go up against the New York Mets, reigning World Series champions , the Philadelphia Phillies along with the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. If anything the Marlins aren’t considered as having a chance to win the division. And garnering a playoff berth if anything is just as tall a task to be asking of this team. But one can be assured of is that they won’t give up their willingness to play with a great deal of enthusiasm and competitive spirit. That has been the consistency of the team over the last couple of years. It mightn’t be viewed as being much of anything but it’s far better than the effort that has been put forth by the likes of the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres. Two franchises if anything where success has been a long time coming as of late.
The roster of the Marlins as alluded to before is one that is filled with a good many young prospects and veterans. The pitching if anything will be the determining factor behind the team’s success this upcoming season . A consistency one would hope will be able to deliver some modicum of success throughout much of the regular season it is hoped. The arms of Ricky Nolasco , Scott Proctor , Anibal Sanchez, Andrew Miller and Josh Johnson will be amongst the pitchers it’s hoped that can attain much of the success the franchise desires. But that’ll be predicated upon the consistency and form shown throughout the season. If they’re able to do that then there’s the chance that they can contend within the division.
One can view this team in a number of ways. It’s seen in some avenues as very talented one. But there’s the belief that with a payroll that’s on the lower end of the scale within the league. They would have a great deal of problems in trying to lure free agents to come and play for a team that hasn’t been known to spend lavishly on their acquisitions through free agency. The venue is to be built and the ground to be broken later this year and for the team to be playing within that edifice by 2011 or perhaps earlier.
With there being so much political uncertainty at present between the city council members. The once assured vote though a certainty may well now be filled with a number of conditions that’ll be required of the ownership. A great deal of this comes from the fact that a bond issue will be initiated to pay for the $630m plus stadium to be situated in the Little Havana district of Miami. The dire economic times and the tentacles of this downturn has reached this municipality and has almost laid it bare. The unemployment rate (7.5%) within the county is slightly below above the national average of 8.4% . And the state’s unemployment rate is now at a staggering 9.4 %. If this particular infrastructure development is to provide the much needed jobs in the community. Then the political bickering that’s said to be going on has to stop and the wishes of the municipality’s residents have to be taken into account. Many of them are in favor but the subject matter has also a great detractors and critics who feel now is not the time to be building a publically financed stadium for a professional sports franchise. The debate will no doubt continue and with Major League Baseball looking on from afar.
However it has to be said that it’s not only baseball that will be looking at this with a great deal of scrutiny. But each of the other three main professional sports will also be paying close attention to what transpires. As it will give them a close gauge as to the feelings that are no doubt being reflected across the country with regard how the ordinary citizen views their professional sporting entities. Especially when it comes to the taxpayers’ monies being used to build these gargantuan edifices for the benefit of an already wealthy owner.
No amount of goodwill when built up can parlayed into playing on the emotions of a city’s residents. When the owners themselves and the respective sport’s governing bodies act oblivious much of the time when the stark realities that the country faces isn’t being borne out by their own business acumen. They’re only all too willing to raise general admission prices as well the PSL’s (personal seat licenses) governing the requirement to purchase a season ticket. And it is the PSL’s which now drawn the ire of many ardent sport’s fans across the country. Especially if they’re season ticket holders.
For the upcoming season for myself as a fan of the Marlins . I can only hope that they will be playing an entertaining brand of baseball that will lure the fans within the gates. If anything it’ll be something that they will have to do on a regular basis if they’re to have any hope garnering the fan base desired to fill their new stadium. That above all is my wish not only for the franchise but also for the game of baseball itself. It is not only the Florida Marlins’ franchise that is now feeling the pressure of these dire economic times. But all the major high profiled professional and college sports. Building an edifice is one thing but one also has to have a recognizable and successful brand that the fans are willing to watch and follow.