SBD/January 16, 2013/Facilities

Dolphins Propose State Bill To Fund $3M In Stadium Renovations

Dolphins officials have launched a website and Twitter account to promote the plan
A bill drafted by the Dolphins “would give Florida sports teams $3 million a year in state money to improve older stadiums, provided the owner pays for at least half the cost of a major renovation,” according to Douglas Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. The bill “pits enthusiasm for one of Florida’s most popular sports teams against a lean budget climate and lingering backlash against the 2009 deal that had Miami and Miami-Dade borrow about" $485M to build a new ballpark for the Marlins. Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross also “must navigate a Republican-led Legislature that has twice rebuffed his requests for public dollars.” State Rep. Mike Fasano, a “critic of tax-funded sports deals," said, “I would be surprised if that bill even got a hearing in committee.” Hanks notes while the bill would “open up the $3 million subsidy to the other teams, the Dolphins see it as unlikely that another owner would be willing to put up as much money for renovations as Ross.” If the bill “were enacted today, any stadium opened before 1993 would be eligible for the money.” State Sen. Oscar Braynon, who sponsored the bill, said that the Marlins deal "hurts the Dolphins’ chances.” Braynon said from the state capital in Tallahassee, “Even people up here think about the Marlins stadium. That’s the biggest hurdle, in my opinion.” Meanwhile, the Dolphins have “launched miamifirst.com, a website, and @miamifirst, a Twitter account, to promote the stadium plan” and promote bringing events, such as Super Bowl L to South Florida. In addition, the team “continues rolling out endorsements from some of Miami-Dade’s largest hotels” (MIAMI HERALD, 1/16).

TO BE, OR NOT TO BE? In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes he is “dead sober in this matter, and dead against pouring cash into a stadium that is owned by a man who has talked of building a waterpark right across the street as an amusing sidelight.” George: “Not this time. It’s too soon after the Marlins’ feeding frenzy, and too much to ask” (PALM BEACH POST, 1/16). But in Ft. Lauderdale, Omar Kelly wrote, “Don't just take a stand against the Sun-Life Stadium public-private partnership plan because you've been burned by other owners, or you feel our tax dollars can be spent better. Think about the alternative. Think about losing Super Bowls and the National Championship game IF we let the stadium continue to fall behind the newer facilities” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 1/15). In Miami, Greg Cote asked fans how they feel about the Dolphins’ $400M stadium-improvement plan “that seeks close to half that money in public funds.” A total of 57% voted, “I’m for the plan as it is. A Private/public cooperative is logistical and fair.” A total of 35% voted, “I’m for the improvements, but let Ross pay. Enough with using tax money.” While a total of 5% voted, “I’m against the plan. The stadium is fine as is” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 1/15).
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