"Boynton official won't let Marlins ballpark idea rest"
By Will Vash
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 11, 2005
Three years after his initial proposal for a Major League Baseball stadium in Palm Beach County fizzled, Boynton Beach City Commissioner Muir C. "Mike" Ferguson is at it again.
During the past two months, Ferguson has written to the governor and the Florida Marlins about locating a new stadium on vacant land either near Boca Raton, Lake Worth or Delray Beach.
There are a few possible obstacles, he concedes. Oddly enough, in his own proposal, he allows it's "not a viable idea."
Still, he said his proposal might be one of the last hopes of keeping the team from moving out of state.
"Somebody has to come up with the $50 million in hard money," Ferguson said of his proposal. "I can get the rest financed."
His plan calls for a joint venture with a bank and "sophisticated leveraging." It would take $500 million to build a 45,000-seat domed stadium, according to Ferguson's estimate.
If his plan could win support this year, a stadium could be ready in 2008, Ferguson said.
Potential sites are a 40-acre tract south of Spanish River Boulevard in Boca Raton across from Florida Atlantic University; a 65-acre piece of city land in Lake Worth north of A.G. Holley Hospital; and a 70-acre, developer-owned tract on West Atlantic Avenue at One Mile Road west of Delray Beach.
Considering the ongoing cash shortfall for a new stadium in Miami, Ferguson said he is surprised his plan hasn't garnered more attention.
Miami and Miami-Dade officials have pledged $166 million to a new stadium, and the Marlins agreed to pay $192 million from future stadium revenue. Parking revenue would provide an additional $32 million, for a $390 million total. That would leave $30 million unfunded.
The state House passed a measure this year that would have provided the funds, but the Senate refused to consider the issue.
The Marlins politely declined Ferguson's help.
"Thank you very much for your proposal for a stadium in South Palm Beach County," Marlins Vice Chairman Joel Mael wrote. "At this time, we are going in a different direction."
Gov. Jeb Bush's office sent the commissioner an e-mail this month stating the governor will "consider your comments and those of other Floridians" on the stadium issue.
In 2002, Ferguson tried to entice Marlins officials with a proposal that suggested an unnamed California power company would offer a $350 million sponsorship for a ballpark in Boynton Beach near Gateway Boulevard and I-95. It failed to generate any support.
Despite the setbacks, Ferguson said he isn't giving up hope.
"We need to keep this ball team in South Florida," he said.
Of course, Miami and Miami-Dade are willing to pony up $192 million towards the project… where are Boca Officials? Does Boca Raton fail to realize the amount of interest and MONEY this would generate for the city? A domed stadium of this size would likely attract band concerts along the likes of the Office Depot Center down South. I guess Boca will just keep sitting on its thumbs, though, as usual… ???
Does Boca not like generating money and interest in this town? Or are they simply scared of the possibility that something may actually keep people awake past midnight in this town? They were hesitant to allow the University Commons area across from FAU to open up with J Alexanders, PF Changs, Circuit City, Barnes and Noble, Starbucks, etc and that place is ALWAYS booming with business - parking is almost always FULL! And guess who the people are that are patronizing those businesses? The same stuffy oldies who objected to the business complex being opened up in the first place! Slowly, but surely, I guess Boca Raton will learn the value of actually adding some form of life to this city. Until then, they'll just keep pushing off FAU's chances for stadium construction.