Miami Proposes Horse Racing At Airport Parking

Miami's city commissioners want to install slot machines at Miami International Airport to generate revenue, but under a Florida statute they must also install horse racing. Writer and humorist Dave Barry says though it would be great to have racing, it would be nicer to get the airport running first.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Now, from an airport in California to one in Florida. If you think you're taking a chance when you fly, well, Miami officials are trying to make the odds even steeper. The city commissioners there want to install slot machines at Miami International to generate revenue and presumably make the anxiety level in the terminals even higher. But, as with all great ideas, there's a catch. Under a Florida statute, if you want to install slots, you also have to have horseracing. As we mentioned, this is Florida and we're about to call on our expert in all things Floridian, writer Dave Barry. Welcome once again.

Mr. DAVE BARRY (Author, Columnist): Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: Why this Florida mandate horseracing with slot machines?

Mr. BARRY: Well it's Florida. You know, it's a weird state because the bottom half of the state, where I live, which is Miami, which really is not part of the United States at all, would love to have gambling and other things. Well, we really do have gambling and prostitution and drugs. We're just - there just not legal here.

SIEGEL: Mm-hmm.

Mr. BARRY: And well, we'd would like to make them legal. And the upper part of the state, which is more Alabama, Georgia than it is Florida, doesn't like those things. It doesn't like Miami in general. And so, it's enacted some rules about where you can have slot machines. And evidently there's some rule that if you have slot machines, it has to be at racetrack, so there has to be horses racing there. And of course because Miami is the ideal spot to put a horse track at the airport…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BARRY: …actually apparently - now, I don't know if you've ever flown through Miami International Airport, I mean, it is a confusing place even to those of us who know it pretty well. It's been under construction since, I don't know, the Civil War…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BARRY: And we would love, of course, to have the ponies running at the airport. But how about let's get the airport running first. The airport…

SIEGEL: But we gloss over the lead here. Some people might have been deterred by this statute. The people at Miami International Airport are figuring out how they can race the horses at the airport.

Mr. BARRY: In the parking lot.

SIEGEL: In the parking lot.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BARRY: Well, why not? Why ever not? You know, it's not a normal airport in a lot of ways. We had a story last year: A 72-year-old man was stopped by police driving a Chevrolet Cobalt, which in itself is not so unusual. It's where he was. He was on the runway…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BARRY: …of the Miami International Airport.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BARRY: It's just not the most sane, organized airport. And I don't really know that horses would be that big a deal there. I don't that anybody would even necessarily notice. I'm wondering if they could maybe hold the races on the runways. I mean, it worked for the guy with the Cobalt…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BARRY: …during flight delays - ladies and gentlemen, we're going to be delayed just a few moments here until the fifth race is - you know, and the people in the planes can maybe bet. Or, I'm thinking, why not just run the horses there, run gambling there, but don't try to make an airport there too.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BARRY: Move the airport somewhere preferably where Miami-Dade County commissioners cannot manage it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BARRY: I'd be happy - wouldn't be any less convenient than Miami International Airport is for us now.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: I see. Dave Barry, thank you very much for talking with us once again.

Mr. BARRY: My pleasure.

SIEGEL: That's humorist Dave Barry talking about Miami International Airport and the possibility of slot machines and horseracing there.

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