`I have promised myself, over and over again, that I would never, never write about the management of the Florida Marlins again. But, I just can’t help myself. Every time Marlins’ president David Samson opens his mouth, putting down our community and our leaders, I want to run to my laptop and strike out at the man.
Samson has treated our community like his cash register. Whenever he needs more revenue he just strikes another deal with our elected officials and sticks it, again and again, to the taxpayers of Miami-Dade.
Never take Samson’s word for anything. Just ask the former mayor of Hialeah, Julio Robaina. He once had a plan to locate the then Florida Marlins’ baseball park in Hialeah. It was logical. Public transportation was nearby and close enough that the Marlins fans from Broward wouldn’t have to drive farther south.
The mayor and the Marlins almost came to a deal. Then, when the team started leaning toward the Orange Bowl site, Hialeah, professional baseball and the Marlins agreed that the 20-acre Hialeah site should be used for the kids in Hialeah and nearby communities. It would become National Baseball League’s second baseball academy in the U.S. The first is in Compton, CA.
The ownership of the Marlins and the National Baseball League promised the mayor of Hialeah and the Hialeah community that because it changed its mind and preferred the Orange Bowl location, the team owners and Major League Baseball would convert the 20 acres originally intended as the site of the stadium into a youth baseball academy. It was to include a number of baseball fields, batting cages, training facilities, as well as offices for the academy’s staff.
Was it a deal? Yes, Hialeah was told, if the Marlins received the okay to build on the Orange Bowl site. Well here it is three years and two months later since the promise of the academy was made. The Marlins have their air-conditioned ballpark and the kids of Hialeah still have a 20-acre empty field. The lesson? Get it in writing or Samson will tell you to go fly a kite.
The county manager and the county commission struck a lousy deal with the Marlins. They were duped by the threat that if we, the community, didn’t build a park for the Marlins they would look around at other cities that would gladly build them a baseball facility. Our county leaders were blinded by the threat and without even looking at the financial statements to make sure the Marlins couldn’t do it on their own as they claimed, gave the park away. But that is history. I can understand the pressure that was placed upon them.
Forget about Samson’s unfair derogatory comments about the mentality of our county elected officials; forget about the team keeping all the profits from all the concessions including the parking garages. Forget about Samson flatly saying no to a measly $20,000 to fix up a field so local residents could park their cars on game days. Forget all that, but don’t forget the kids in Hialeah, who were “promised” a first class facility where they could practice, play ball and dream about growing up and becoming stars in professional baseball.
To quote, back in 2009, Mayor Robaina and the Marlins owners: “Sports are a great way for kids to have fun, get in shape and stay out of trouble.” Thank you, Mr. Samson! Sorry, we didn’t get it in writing.
I think it is about time that Hialeah goes to the major leagues and ask them about the promise to build the baseball academy. Forget about Samson and his gang. The only way Samson would keep his word is if we created a fee to use the proposed academy’s facilities and turn the money over to him as it was collected. Perhaps major league baseball is better at keeping its word.
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