Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Tuesday he will not attend the All-Star Game at county-owned Marlins Park because the Miami Marlins did not invite him, a contention that the team’s president denied.
Speaking with reporters after unveiling his 2018 budget proposal, Gimenez said he is used to local teams inviting him with free tickets to major games that he then discloses as gifts. The Marlins sent the mayor’s office a link to purchase tickets for Tuesday night, but Gimenez said he did not consider himself formally invited to attend Miami’s first All-Star Game.
“If he wants to invite me as a representative of the people of Miami-Dade, I would probably attend,” Gimenez said of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. “But he hasn’t invited me.”
Marlins President David Samson rejected Gimenez’s allegation of a snub, saying he was invited the same way the Marlins asked other prominent people to attend the game. “The mayor was invited to purchase tickets. And we received no response to that invitation,” Samson said.
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Samson noted Gov. Rick Scott is flying in from Tallahassee to attend the All-Star Game, and received the same kind of invitation that Gimenez did.
“The governor was invited to purchase tickets and did,” Samson said. “And he’s going to be at the game.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the mayor’s office released an email from Marlins executive sent last month with a link to purchase All-Star tickets for between $500 and $1,000 per seat. The email from Marlins executive Alfie Mesa to Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak does not mention Gimenez but said four tickets were “reserved for purchase” and referenced a phone conversation between the two.
Michael Hernández, an Gimenez spokesman, said Mesa had “invited the mayor to purchase tickets to the game.” Hudak, who had forwarded Mesa’s email to the mayor’s office, was not immediately available for comment. The governor’s office confirmed Scott paid for his seat at Tuesday’s game. “The governor is attending, and he did buy his own ticket,” Scott spokeswoman Jeri Bustamante said.
Gimenez’s Thursday remarks were the second time in three days that the mayor or a top aide made an effort to highlight his rift with the Marlins. The political friction on All-Star day comes as Loria fields offers from would-be buyers groups, one of which includes Gimenez friend and donor Jeb Bush.
On Sunday, Hernández issued a statement accusing Samson of “pettiness” over not wanting Hernández to fill in for Gimenez at the ribbon-cutting of a ballpark funded in part by Major League Baseball and the Marlins.
Samson said the All-Star Game does not provide free tickets to dignitaries, and he said he was buying his own ticket from Major League Baseball to attend the event. “I paid Major League Baseball for 22 tickets in my suite,” he said. Samson said Loria also had to purchase the seats near the dugout where he typically watches home games.
As a county commissioner, Gimenez opposed the 2009 financing deal for Marlins Park that had the county borrow about $370 million to help build the $515 million stadium. The unpopularity of the deal helped lead to the recall of then-Mayor Carlos Alvarez, clearing the way for Gimenez to take office in 2011. He waited five seasons to watch the Marlins play there, attending a few innings in connection with a pre-game event last year celebrating Miami’s selection for the 2017 All-Star Game.
The mayor made his allegation of a snub Tuesday after a reporter asked why he wasn’t attending the All-Star Game. “I can watch it better on TV,” he said.
Gimenez later said he’s been provided free tickets to games by the Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami to attend big football games, and listed the freebies as gifts under the state’s disclosure rules for elected officials. Gimenez purchased his own ticket to attend the El Clasico Miami soccer match between the Madrid and Barcelona teams on July 29 at the Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium, Hernández said.
If the Marlins had offered him an All-Star ticket, Gimenez said he would be there Tuesday night.
“If invited, sure I would go. As a representative of Miami-Dade, yeah, I would go,” Gimenez said. “And then I would put it as a gift on my disclosure form. Because that’s part of the job I have as mayor of Miami-Dade County.”