State Politics

Final vote looms for Marlins ballpark

MIAMI — The Florida Marlins want to move to Little Havana. A final vote by South Florida politicians will decide whether they can.

A plan to build a new Marlins ballpark on the site of the demolished Orange Bowl near downtown Miami is now in the hands of Miami-Dade County commissioners, who will meet to discuss the deal today.

To steal a baseball metaphor, it must feel like Game 6 or 7 of the World Series for the Marlins, who share a home with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and have long sought funds for a baseball-only stadium with a roof. City commissioners spent about a month squabbling over the project before they approved the plan last week.

“We’ve never been closer, that’s for sure,” Miami-Dade County manager George Burgess said. “I think it’ll be really good. Going to be very exciting for the community when it’s done and you have professional baseball in downtown Miami.”

The ballpark plans call for 37,000 seats and a retractable roof, which the team hopes will help draw more fans during South Florida’s hot, rainy summers. The stadium is expected to open in 2012 for the team, which will be renamed the Miami Marlins.

Bed taxes would finance most of the construction, with the Marlins paying $119 million and also repaying a $35 million county loan. Critics don’t want public money used at all.