SBD/March 21, 2013/Facilities

Florida Legislature Approves $60M In Tax Breaks For Pro Sports Facilities

The Florida House's tax-writing committee yesterday "approved a package of multimillion-dollar breaks" for professional-sports facilities across Florida, according to Jason Garcia of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. In three separate votes, the House Finance & Tax Subcommittee "voted in favor of" $60M in sales-tax subsidies for efforts to expand Daytona Int'l Speedway; build an MLS stadium in Orlando; and renovate EverBank Field in Jacksonville. The legislation to subsidize the DIS renovations was "winnowed from three tax breaks to one." ISC under the rewrite would "still get an annual sales-tax subsidy of" $2M during the next 30 years -- $60M total -- which is "identical to the amount the Legislature has granted to eight other pro-sports facilities in Florida that feature hockey, football, baseball or basketball." But two other provisions -- to "refund ISC all of the sales tax it would pay as part of a construction or renovation project costing $250 million or more, and an additional annual subsidy based on how much sales increase at the speedway -- were removed from the bill." However, those breaks "could still come back." NASCAR and speedway supporters are "trying to resurrect the construction-tax refund -- which ISC estimates would save the company somewhat less than" $10M -- later during the 60-day legislative session. Legislation sought by Orlando City Soccer Club and the city of Orlando "was similarly scaled back." The original version of the bill would have "increased the number of slots available for a $60 million stadium subsidy from the existing eight to 10, reserving both of the new ones for" MLS teams. The revised bill would "create only one additional slot, though it would still be reserved for an MLS team." Orlando officials are "banking on the state money to help finance construction" of a $110M soccer-specific stadium downtown, which they said that would "help persuade MLS to award the city an expansion franchise" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/21).
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