Dates set for votes on ballpark

MIAMI -- The Florida Marlins could have a final decision on their bid for a new ballpark by early March.

The city commission has moved up the date of its next meeting on the issue to March 4. Miami-Dade County commissioners are scheduled to consider the plan March 5.

Approval by both commissions is needed before the Marlins can break ground on a proposed 37,000-seat stadium near downtown.

City commissioners met for 7½ hours last Friday without reaching a final decision on the plan. Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones missed the meeting but is expected to attend in two weeks, and she could provide the extra vote needed for passage.

The stadium is projected to open in 2012 and cost $515 million, with the public paying $361 million. Marlins president David Samson has said he remains optimistic the plan will be approved.

The team has sought a new home for more than a decade.