SBD/April 11, 2013/Facilities

Voter Referendum Set For Tax Hike To Support Dolphins' Stadium Renovations

The Miami-Dade County Commission yesterday “approved asking voters to raise hotel taxes" for a renovation to Sun Life Stadium, a $289M “payout that Mayor Carlos Gimenez said breaks new ground in how government subsidizes sports facilities,” according to a front-page piece by Mazzei & Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. The vote “set up what the county elections chief said would be the fastest referendum ever held by Miami-Dade, with voters on May 14 considering a plan that was only released in detail late Tuesday.” Nearly five hours of discussion “brought few surprises, as commissioners were expected to approve the plan endorsed by Gimenez.” Backlash against the Marlins’ publicly financed ballpark “dominated" yesterday's meeting, with commissioners frequently pointing out differences between the Marlins deal and the plan proposed for Sun Life Stadium.” Gimenez had “demanded early on that tax money be awarded only if the NFL gave Miami Gardens the milestone 50th Super Bowl, or, the 51st as a consolation prize.” But Dolphins CEO Mike Dee yesterday “revealed that league officials were opposed to allowing Miami-Dade to link stadium funds with the award of a specific game, so the ballot language was changed to approve the tax hike as long as Miami is awarded any Super Bowl in May.” Gimenez and at least one commissioner said that they would “not look kindly on having the NFL unexpectedly award Sun Life a later Super Bowl.” Gimenez said, “I don’t want 52” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/11).

SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT? In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis notes there are “significant hurdles remaining” in securing the Sun Life Stadium upgrades. The Dolphins said that they have “gotten favorable response when they present the merits of the funding plan to community groups.” But there is “considerable opposition among voters who object to giving any public funds to sports teams and wealthy owners such as Dolphins' owner Steve Ross” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/11). Former Eagles Owner and South Florida car dealer Norman Braman said that he was “ready to bankroll opposition to the deal in an election, but if he waits for the legislature to vote … he may miss out on opportunity to influence absentee voters” (MIAMI.CBSLOCAL.com, 4/10). 

NOTHING FISHY: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes the Super Bowl is “being used as a political shield and conversational convenience for the Dolphins to get public millions to build their stadium.” The stadium has “legitimate needs for updating, no doubt.” But the “big-money item, the canopy, isn't really needed to shield Super Bowl fans from night-time rain.” It is “necessary to shade Dolphins fans sitting in the heat of a September afternoon.” Hyde writes, “You can't blame the Dolphins for going this route. They're doing what sports teams do in America” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/11).
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Facilities, Miami Dolphins, NFL

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