Nine years after approving the financing plan to build a stadium for the Marlins, several Miami-Dade County commissioners expressed a combination of disappointment and disgust with how the team has been run, including decisions made by former owner Jeffrey Loria and the new ownership group led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter.
At least three of the nine county commissioners who voted for the stadium — Javier Souto, Rebeca Sosa and Natacha Seijas — said they would reconsider their vote if they could do so now.
Souto, who voted yes, said he would have voted no if he knew then what he knows now.
“We have been very unlucky and maybe naive in many ways in believing things that turned out to be not true,” he said. “The previous owners and the guys now — it's money, money, money for them and not the community. We've been taken to the cleaners. Big disappointment.”
Seijas said “if this gentleman [Sherman] was the owner and the vote came now, I would not support it. Bruce Sherman has lost money in many investments. I thought the stadium would help and create jobs…
“[But] the new owners are as destructive as the one before. It never occurred to me they would do what they are doing now and getting rid of players, the home run leader [Giancarlo Stanton]. I can't believe this man [Jeter] is doing this. You would think Jeter would know more about the community and the people. If you take away players they admire and like, they won't go to games. How does he think they will increase attendance? I'm very annoyed.”
Sosa, who voted for the stadium, said she would have voted no if she had “the proper information” that the Marlins withheld. After her yes vote, she saw financial records that convinced her that the Marlins were “not losing as much money as they said they were losing.”
Dennis Moss, who voted for the stadium, said: “At this point, I’m very disappointed. My hope was eventually when the team did change hands that it would go to a deep-pocketed group that would be able to keep the team together and work toward building a championship and would put a quality product on the field. Someone who could keep the MVP and continue to build on the roster and place us in a position to be competitive and do what John Henry has done in Boston. That’s not the road they’ve taken, and it’s disappointing.”
But Moss said he would still vote for the stadium because it assures the Marlins will remain here for 30 years from the time of the 2012 opening.
“I felt at that time and I still feel the best thing was to build a stadium,” Moss said. “Great communities have great facilities. This could be used for other opportunities like the Pan Am games or an eventual run at the Olympics.”
Joe Martinez — who voted no on the stadium — said “I wish those who voted against the financial plan would have been able to convince the ones who went along with it. It was a bad plan then and a worse plan now.
“We had a competitive team and we needed to add pieces. They ruined it and they are not going to give the taxpayers what they thought they were getting. We have good baseball fans. We don't have enough of them. But how is Jeter going to increase attendance by getting rid of players people are attached to? It was a horrible deal and it's been made worse. I believe this ownership group is worse than Loria.”
Bruno Barreiro said he would still vote yes for the stadium, as he did then, because “we have a team that will be here permanently.”
But, “Definitely, I have short-term regrets that they haven't stepped up to the plate and put together a competitive team. It's too soon to judge Jeter. You can't judge in less than a year of action. But he needs to turn it around fairly soon. One season might not be realistic but we can't be three or four seasons and we're still in the situation.”
Past ownership said the Marlins would be in the midrange of salary and the Marlins are nowhere close to that figure ($140 million).
Payroll “should be in the midrange, and obviously it’s not,” Barreiro said. “They have not delivered.”
All of the aforementioned commissioners remain in office except Seijas.
A Marlins spokesman declined to comment beyond citing Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s publicly stated support for the new owners.
The $640 million price tag was covered partly by $347 million from Miami-Dade County (about $297 million from tourist tax dollars) and $23 million from the city of Miami, which also paid $10 million to demolish the old Orange Bowl site and another $94 million to construct the new parking facilities.
Among other commissioners who voted for the stadium, Barbara Jordan refused to comment; Aubrey Edmonson and Pepe Diaz did not return phone messages and Dorrin Rolle couldn’t be reached.