MIAMI — The Florida Marlins took a major stride Tuesday in their lengthy quest for a permanent South Florida home when a judge ruled that a new ballpark funded primarily through tax dollars serves the public good.
With Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jeri Beth Cohen's ruling, the county and Marlins said they will move ahead with construction of the $515 million, 37,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium in Little Havana.
''This is the one we've been waiting for,'' said Marlins President David Samson. ``It's a complete victory. It took a long time.''
County Mayor Carlos Alvarez on Tuesday restated what he told the court during his deposition: Building the ballpark will revitalize the neighborhood and create much-needed jobs.
''When the economy is hurting, it means thousands of jobs -- good-paying construction jobs -- for people who need them now,'' he said.
The team and government are going forward even as one of billionaire auto dealer Norman Braman's seven lawsuit counts has yet to be adjudged. They believe that issue — involving the complex financing that set the stadium and a string of other public works projects in motion — would not affect the new ballpark eyed for the former Orange Bowl site.
Braman took minor solace in Cohen's 41-page ruling. Though Cohen found that the stadium meets the key ''public purpose'' test, she also gave credence to his belief that the stadium can be viewed as a ''sweet deal'' for the Marlins.
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