The Real Cost To Miami For Marlins Park Is In The Billions

We've aired our grievances with the very concept of public financing for sports stadiums, especially the sweetheart deal Jeffrey Loria got for Marlins Park, where the team had to cover less than 20 percent of the cost. But even if you're not philosophically opposed to tax money going to multi-millionaire owners, it's hard to look at all the zeroes Miami-Dade County is on the hook for and not be physically ill.

The county chipped in $500 million for the construction of Marlins Park. The county did not have $500 million, but construction needed to start and be paid for immediately. So Miami-Dade borrowed the money by selling bonds on Wall Street, a loan which won't come due for decades. When it does, it's going to hurt.

The Miami Herald does the math on just one set of those bonds, which raised $91 million. Payments begin in 2026, and quickly skyrocket. By 2048, when the last payment is due, the total reaches $1.18 billion.

Here's your handy chart, via the Herald:

The Real Cost To Miami For Marlins Park Is In The Billions

To make Miamians feel better, $1.2 billion in 2048 will be worth a lot less than it is today, thanks to inflation. To make Miamians feel worse, the county really had no choice but to agree to these awful loan terms. The bonds were sold in 2009, when the credit market was at its nadir. Even more infuriatingly, the money had to be borrowed then—local politicians had already voted to fund Marlins Park, construction had begun, and the money needed to be raised immediately.

The county commissioners voted on selling the bonds in a hastily-called meeting shortly after midnight on July 1, 2009. Just days before the secretive vote, County Manager George Burgess told commissioners he didn't know what the final costs would be. The measure passed anyway.

Remember, this $1.2 billion is only on one set of bonds. The total payments for all of the $500 million borrowed by the county will eventually come in at a whopping $2.4 billion. Not only did Jeffrey Loria get taxpayers to buy him a stadium, but they bought him the most expensive stadium ever built.

[Miami Herald]