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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real Estate Florida.)

MIAMI-After receiving city approval last week, Miami-Dade County has approved and pledged funds toward a $634-million stadium to serve as home to the team to be dubbed Miami Marlins by 2012. Local experts disagree on whether the venue will create a development boom, but say Little Havana–where the site is located–is sure to benefit. The venue will be constructed on 17 acres at the site of the now closed Orange Bowl in Miami, and is set to feature a retractable roof, natural grass playing field, 37,000 seats and 6,000 parking spots. A plaza with retail space is also being planned, but the square footage has not yet been determined, a Florida Marlins spokesperson tells GlobeSt.com.

Miami’s commercial real estate community has conflicting opinions about whether the controversial project will spark commercial development and turn the neighborhood surrounding the stadium site into a hot spot. “The conventional wisdom is that the impact on retail and commercial will be quite significant,” says John Bell, managing director of Miami-based DTZ Rockwood. “This is expected to be an economic driver for retail and probably some small office. Lifestyle centers, restaurants, bars and entertainment concepts will most likely thrive there, and once the area gets exposure it will become a destination location.”

Other brokers disagree, telling GlobeSt.com they just don’t see it, pointing out that the stadium, hosting about 81 games during the April through October season, would be the only driver in the neighborhood. “No one has a critical mass of ownership in the immediate trade area,” says Greg Masin with Cushman & Wakefield’s Miami office. “If they think they’re going to organically grow something from scratch in a neighborhood without a lot of other significant drivers, that’s going to take an incredibly long time, if it happens at all.”

The immediate area across the street and within walking distance of the stadium could benefit from some type of rehab or development that will service the flow of baseball fans that have no choice but to walk by, says Drew Kristol, senior associate with the Miami office of Marcus & Millichap. “It’s obviously going to increase traffic that never would have come to the area, which would be positive for rent growth.”

Retail around the immediate area will no doubt be enhanced, says Stephen Nostrand, executive vice president with Coral Gables-based Colliers Abood Wood-Fay. “I think people are going to want to have places to go eat and entertain before and after a game. However, I don’t think it’s going to be the boom or bonanza that has been discussed by some.”

A hotel, for example, has to be successful 360 days per year and run a minimum of 70% occupancy, he says, questioning whether or not hospitality could thrive there, especially when there are no other business drivers. “Maybe when it becomes a viable venue and if the city was able to utilize the stadium for other events besides the Marlins,” he adds.

Guy Trusty, president of Lodging and Hospitality Realty in Coral Gables says there could be room for a successful hotel development around the stadium in the future. “There is a pent up demand for select service hotels” that could also cater to neighboring areas around the Civic Center and Jackson Memorial Hospital, he tells GlobeSt.com. A lack of available land that was bought up by condo developers has created that demand, he says.

If hospitality development does not come to the stadium site, fans will look to nearby Downtown Miami for places to stay, and for entertainment, says Nostrand. “The teams and officials will stay there and that area of town will see a lot of business. Downtown is definitely going to benefit.”

The debate over the long-term effects of the stadium promises to continue, while most can agree on the short-term benefits. Actual development of the stadium is sure to help mitigate commercial real estate in Miami through the creation of jobs.

“The construction would increase business for the firms building the stadium, many if not most of which are occupiers of real estate,” says Scott Sime, president of Holly Sime Realty. Construction companies, engineering companies, architects, contractors and related industries would grow to meet demands. “Any type of infrastructure project creating jobs supporting and increasing occupancy of space helps the real estate market, and may serve as a bridge for many companies that are struggling with the downturn right now,” says Sime.

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