Marlins might move or be dissolved without a new stadium

Thursday, April 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ The Florida Marlins will likely move or be dissolved if state legislators fail to approve a proposed tax rebate for a new downtown baseball stadium, commissioner Bud Selig said in a letter.

The message, sent to state Sen. Alex Villalobos on Wednesday, said the Marlins cannot survive in South Florida without a new ballpark.

Villalobos, a Miami Republican who is sponsoring the bill, said Selig's statement was a response to a letter he sent to the commissioner asking what the consequences would be if the measure didn't pass.

``We recognize that relocation and contraction are very significant actions,'' Selig wrote. ``Should the Marlins fail to secure legislation necessary to implement the funding plan ... we believe such steps will be warranted.''

The bill was moved to the full Senate on Tuesday, and a similar measure was headed to the House floor. However, Senate President John McKay said that if he is convinced the bill will cost the state, he will let it die.

``A lot of people have said it's a threat,'' Villalobos said. ``I wanted it in writing. I didn't want it to be subject to interpretation.''

Marlins owner John Henry has said major league baseball might dissolve the team if it can't reach a stadium deal.

The team currently shares Pro Player Stadium with the Miami Dolphins football team. The stadium was built with private money by Dolphins founder Joe Robbie, although the stadium's owners are receiving $60 million in tax breaks to adapt the stadium for baseball.

Under the plan, the Marlins would have to clean up a 60-acre polluted site along the Miami River to build a new stadium.

The $122 million sales tax rebate plan is part of a $385 million package that includes county hotel taxes, an extension of a Miami city parking surcharge, a fee on game tickets and $6 million in annual rent payments by Henry.