SBD/Issue 93/Facilities & Venues

Dolphins Eye Tourist Taxes As Way To Fund Stadium Renovations

Dolphins Hatch Plan To Raise Public
Dollars To Improve Sun Life Stadium
The Dolphins, in order to "raise public dollars to improve" privately-owned Sun Life Stadium, have "hatched a plan: get state legislators to lift the ceiling on Miami-Dade's hotel tax and then ask county commissioners to increase the rate of the so-called bed tax," according to Haggman & Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. Florida state law "now caps the hotel taxes at" 6%, and revenues from the tax levied at Miami-Dade County hotels are "largely spoken for after county leaders agreed to use public funds to construct" a new ballpark for the Marlins. Backers of the plan said that the move "would generate millions of dollars for renovations" to Sun Life Stadium, "along with upgrades of the Miami Beach Convention Center." Haggman & Hanks note NFL and Dolphins officials and stadium supporters "contend that Sun Life Stadium needs more than $200[M] in renovations if future Super Bowls are to return to South Florida." But "winning public funding to enhance a stadium whose primary owner is billionaire real estate developer Stephen Ross remains a tall order." Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez yesterday said that he "hasn't been presented with any specific proposals," but he "declared his opposition to tax dollars being used for renovations" to the stadium. Alvarez: "I would not be supportive of any public funding for the renovation of the Dolphins' stadium. Now is not the time." Alvarez "strongly backed the use of public dollars for the under-construction" Marlins ballpark, but he said that the Dolphins' situation is "different." Alvarez: "The Marlins will play 81 home games a year here for the next 30 years, rather than paying for improvements to compete for one game every four or five years." Dolphins CEO Mike Dee yesterday "declined to discuss specific proposals, including raising the bed tax, saying he wanted to give time for a new sub-committee formed by the South Florida Super Bowl Host committee to consider improvements to the Dolphins home and ways to pay for it." Haggman & Hanks note that subcommittee is "set to hold its first meeting" tomorrow (MIAMI HERALD, 1/27).

MAKING THE CASE: In a special to the MIAMI HERALD, South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Chair Rodney Barreto wrote if the Super Bowl stops coming to South Florida, it will be "difficult to replace that kind of economic and community benefit." Barreto noted the NFL "says Sun Life Stadium needs to keep up with the new state-of-the-art stadiums being built around the country," though who is "going to pay for those improvements is still to be determined." Barreto: "Let's open it up for discussion and see where it leads us. Keep in mind, our stadium is only one of two in the NFL that is privately owned. ... The last thing we want to do is wake up 10 years from now and ask why we haven't had a Super Bowl here in the last decade" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/24).

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