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City Leaders React to CBS4 Report on Marlins Ballpark

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Jim-DeFede-600x450 Jim DeFede
Jim DeFede joined CBS4 News in January 2006, providing reg...
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MIAMI (CBS4) – A day after CBS4 News revealed that an inspector on the new Marlins ballpark falsified records concerning critical welds supporting the retractable roof, city officials announced plans to increase their oversight of the project. And Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado made it clear he would not allow the ballpark to open until all safety concerns are addressed.

CLICK HERE to read Jim DeFede’s original report.

“We understand they are on a deadline but they got to do things right,” Regalado told CBS4 investigator Jim DeFede. “Hopefully we’ll be on time and they will be on time.”

That word – hopefully – as in hopefully the ballpark will be ready by opening day – is a direct shot at the Marlins and the team’s president, David Samson.

As the ramifications of the CBS4 News story were being felt, the Miami-Dade Inspector General continued his review of the project, pressing the Marlins for inspection records and reports.

Meanwhile, representatives of the Marlins were reaching out to city officials, trying to allay their fears. Samson remained adamant the stadium is safe.

“We have no concerns about anything regarding the safety of this building and the retractable roof at all,” he told CBS4 News.

Regalado said he was disturbed by the information uncovered by the Inspector General and said he was pleased the IG was on the case. He promised senior city officials would be taking a much more aggressive role in monitoring the ballpark’s construction. Those officials would also decide whether the team will get a certificate of occupancy – which is required before the stadium can open.

“The assistant city manager and the building director will be doing the work from now on,” Regalado said. “We want this to be very transparent and of course safe so the administration will be looking very very carefully to all of the ways we have to permit.”

Commissioner Francis Suarez, the incoming city commission chairman, agreed. He said he was surprised some city officials were quoted in The Miami Herald Wednesday morning suggesting the problems inside the stadium had been resolved. Suarez said the city needs to move cautiously.

“We have the ultimate responsibility of certifying the occupancy of the building so we have to very very careful not to be premature in any of our judgments about the safety of the building,” he said.

Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said while he is heartened the engineer of record has approved of the repairs and recalculations being made to the roof welds, the final say remains with the city when the plans are resubmitted to the head of the city’s building department.

“They need to give us the as-built diagrams, they give it to our building official, our building official looks at it, makes his determination,” Sarnoff explained. “Once he’s satisfied then the record is complete. That hasn’t occurred as of yet.”

On Tuesday Samson said they would do what was required to make things right.

“We will follow all the protocols to get a certificate of occupancy,” he said.

The mayor and commission have had a rocky relationship with the Marlins and  Samson. City officials believe the team snookered them on language in their parking garage deal that will cost the city $2 million a year.

When the mayor asked the Marlins recently for help, Samson refused. Now it is Samson and the team that may need help from the city – a fact Regalado noted with a smile.

“We’re going to do the right thing,” Regalado said. “They are going to be measured by the same rule as anyone that does construction in the city of Miami.”

City officials expect these issues to be resolved – eventually.

“I didn’t vote for the Marlins stadium, I didn’t like the way it was financed, I’m still not in favor of the way it was financed,” said Marc Sarnoff. “But it’s a fact in our lives and we don’t want a white elephant there. We want people to go out there, we want them to feel safe and secure.”

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