Orange Bowl Update: Stadium site likely to go to Marlins if ‘Canes move north

It looks like the Orange Bowl site will soon be home to a new sports team-the Florida Marlins.

The Miami City Commission voted unanimously on March 8 to support a $490 million plan to fund a ballpark for the Florida Marlins somewhere in Miami, expressing interest to place the new park on the site of the Orange Bowl.

The Sun-Sentinel reported earlier this month the ballpark will be built at the Orange Bowl if UM moves its football games to Dolphin Stadium. The idea came about when city officials learned that UM is considering a move to Dolphin Stadium.

While the decision is not expected until late April or early May, the city is still determining whether or not it can finance a major renovation of the Orange Bowl.

Despite plans by the University of Miami to renovate the Orange Bowl by the 2009 football season, the city has not secured financing for the project.

Lori Bilberry, Miami’s director of facilities, told The Miami Herald that UM has a no-out clause before the Orange Bowl lease expires after the 2009 season. However, if the university decides to leave before the 2008 or 2009 season, Bilberry said there is a sense the city would oblige.

The Sun-Sentinel also reported that commissioners appeared to send the message they prefer the Marlins to the Hurricanes, but Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones said she would like to see both projects completed.

“The Hurricanes have been a long-standing staple in Miami,” Spence-Jones was quoted as saying in the Sun-Sentinel. “It would be great if we can include both, but I think the issue is coming down to cost and what it’s really going to cost to rehab the Orange Bowl.”

The Orange Bowl, located in Little Havana, received the strongest support as the site of the new Marlins ballpark. City commissioners opposed a proposal to build the stadium on a downtown site north of government center, according to NBC 6’s web site.

“Let’s hope and pray the Hurricanes do move to Dolphin Stadium and put the Marlins at the Orange Bowl,” County Commissioner Joe Martinez told NBC 6.

A decision as to whether or not the Hurricanes will move to Dolphin Stadium is expected in the next three months.

“We have been working with the city to explore renovation plans for the Orange Bowl,” Margot Winick, executive director of media relations, told CBS 4. “At the same time, as we have said repeatedly, we have an obligation to consider all options that will provide our fans and team with a high-quality facility.”

According to The Miami Herald, the only scenario in which UM would stay at the Orange Bowl is if the Marlins’ stadium plan collapses soon, which would lead the city to use the Marlins contribution money toward renovating the Orange Bowl.

“The perfect thing would be to keep the University of Miami, but I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Miami City Commissioner Joe Sanchez was quoted as saying in The Miami Herald. “If it’s a divorce, they’re the ones walking out.”

Megan Ondrizek may be contacted at