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The Dolphins have offered to “repay Miami-Dade County for a portion of the public costs of renovating Sun Life Stadium, and to pay millions of dollars in penalties should the team fail to bring major events to South Florida, including four Super Bowls over the next three decades,” according to a front-page piece by Salguero, Hanks & Mazzei of the MIAMI HERALD. A source said that the Dolphins “have told the county they will repay Miami-Dade for the initial share of the renovation costs in about 30 years, but the rebate would not include the debt payments that will likely come with the deal.” A source said that team officials during last week's owners meetings “shared a confidential report on their ongoing negotiations with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to bring the issue to a countywide vote.” The source said that the Dolphins “offered to use private dollars" to fund $225M in construction costs for a renovation now estimated at $389M, less than the $400M figure that was the "most commonly used estimate for the deal.” That amounts to the Dolphins “asking for public money to fund about 43 percent of the construction costs, less than the 49 percent that was initially floated as a starting point by the team.” The source added that the Dolphins have “offered to go one step further and repay Miami-Dade" for the $120M the county "would be expected to put into the renovation.” The remaining $44M “would come from a state sales-tax subsidy.” The team also would “pay the county a penalty at the end of the 30-year agreement if the Dolphins do not deliver a minimum number of events at the stadium, including at least four Super Bowls, four college football championship games and 22 soccer matches.” The penalty for “not landing a Super Bowl would be $15 million.” The Dolphins also would “sign a non-relocation agreement, agreeing to stay in Miami until 2043.” The source said that the stadium renovation “would be completed by September 2015” (MIAMI HERALD, 3/26).
TIME TO BRING IN THE CONSULTANTS: In Miami, Patricia Mazzei noted Ashley Walker, the former Florida chief for President Obama’s re-election campaign, will head Mercury Florida, a "new public affairs consulting firm with the strategists tapped to lead a potential” Dolphins referendum campaign. Walker's firm will “bring together national firm Mercury with Floridian Partners, whose team includes” South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee Chair Rodney Barreto. The Dolphins have “reached out to” Mercury Partner Michael McKeon, who knows Walker, Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross and former Obama Florida campaign spokesperson Eric Jotkoff to "shape the football team's political strategy” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 3/25).
The future of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, one of the PGA Tour’s premier events, appears brighter now that the Quail Hollow Club will likely be available as the site of the tournament in '15 and ’16, years when the golf course was previously thought to be unavailable. When the club announced that the '17 PGA Championship was coming to Quail Hollow, officials said the Wells Fargo Championship might have to take a hiatus or find an alternate site for as many as three years while the club readied for its first major. At that time, it was considered unlikely that Quail Hollow would host a PGA Tour event in '15, ‘16, or perhaps beyond. The reason is that Quail Hollow needed to make several alterations to the course -- new Bermuda greens, for example -- to prepare for the PGA. But Wells Fargo Championship Exec Dir Kym Hougham today said upgrades to the course are speeding along and will not interfere with Quail Hollow’s ability to host the Wells Fargo Championship in '15 or ’16. That is a major development that will enhance the tournament’s ability to keep Wells Fargo on board as title sponsor. The financial institution is under contract with the PGA Tour through '14 and renewal talks between Wells and the PGA Tour are progressing, Hougham said. “A lot of people didn’t want to see the tournament leave and go somewhere else for two to three years,” Hougham said. “The fact that the tournament might have to find an alternate site for just one year ('17) is certainly enticing to Wells Fargo. It’s a much better situation for the tournament, in general.”
Florida Atlantic Univ.’s Faculty Senate has said that the school’s $6M stadium naming-rights deal with private prison contractor GEO Group has “hurt the school’s reputation.” In West Palm Beach, George Bennett notes the senate “voted 25-9 on Friday for a resolution that formally opposes the deal.” FAU’s student government is “expected to vote later this week on a similar resolution.” FAU President Mary Jane Saunders has described the naming-rights agreement as “a done deal.” Faculty Senate President William McDaniel said the vote is “purely advisory” (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 3/25).
BREAKING FROM THE PACK: In Charlotte, Steve Harrison notes the Charlotte chapter of the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association has “broken with the state organization and issued a letter Monday that supports a half-cent sales tax increase on food and beverages to help pay for stadium renovations” for the Panthers' Bank of American Stadium. Group Chair Tom Sasser in the letter to Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx wrote that he “supports the city’s latest proposal of a half-cent sales tax that would end after 15 years” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/26).
SAFETY FIRST: In Charlotte, Jim Utter wrote, "Here we are in March 2013 and we're still having discussions about why some walls of NASCAR tracks are not covered by energy-absorbing SAFER barriers." Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday "wrecked and just happened to crash into part of the infield wall not covered by the barrier." Utter: "How many times does this have to happen before NASCAR and/or the tracks get the message that it is impossible to predict where accidents are likely to happen and it's best to cover all your bases, or in this case, walls?" And "why is NASCAR holding a Truck race at an Ohio dirt track this season -- a track that has no SAFER barriers?” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/25).