The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Marlins in SA?

The Florida Marlins, a team two years removed from winning the World Series has been given the ok to look at cities for a possible relocation- and San Antonio is on that list:

The head of the Florida Marlins visited San Antonio on Tuesday as part of a preliminary search for a possible new home for the National League team.

Marlins president David Samson said San Antonio was the first stop on a tour that will last three to five months.

"We're not a free-agent pitcher. We're a team looking for a right fit," said Samson.

The Marlins have struggled to attract large crowds at Dolphins Stadium, home of Miami's NFL team, since their inception in 1993. They can leave after their lease expires in 2007.

After previous owner Wayne Huizenga boosted payroll, the Marlins won the 1997 World Series. But disappointing attendance led to a roster purge and a last-place finish in 1998.

The Marlins, two years removed from another World Series title, are getting rid of high-priced players again this offseason. They recently abandoned plans to build a stadium in downtown Miami.

Other cities on the Marlin relocation tour are Las Vegas and Portland. I don't think it's very likely the MLB would put a franchise in Vegas, with their history of highly publicized betting scandals. Of course, a baseball stadium would have to be built for any MLB team thinking about coming to San Antonio, which is a plus for any team that's looking. That's also the biggest negative in bringing in a MLB team to town.

But this also has the potential to put two normally staunch allies on different sides. If both the Marlins AND the Saints wanted to relocate to San Antonio, then we could possibly see County Judge Nelson Wolff, a long time baseball player and avid fan, going head to head with Mayor Phil Hardbarger, longtime friend of Saints owner Tom Benson. I don't think we'd have the cash to bring both in- it's been said that it would cost about $200 million to refurbish the Alamodome and build a practice facility for an NFL franchise, while the cost of a modern baseball stadium is even higher (Minute Maid Park in Houston was built for $250 million).

And with the Spurs needing every creative mind they have to fill the seats 41 times a season, I don't know how an MLB franchise could fill the seats for 81 regular-season games a year. I'd say regionalize the team and put it somewhere in between San Antonio and Austin, but I don't know how you'd come up with the public financing for that.

We'll see how this plays out, there's a very good chance we may not hear of this issue again until after the citizens of Miami approve a public finance proposal to build a new stadium over there.