SBD/April 30, 2013/Facilities

Florida Senate Approves Stadium Tax Dollars Proposal; House Must Approve By Friday

Support from Goodell (l), Ross (r) was seen as key to the Senate's approval
The Florida Senate yesterday got a “strong push” from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross, and “signed off on a proposal to let pro sports teams such as the Dolphins compete for tax dollars to fund stadium projects,” according to Haughney & Deslatte of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The 35-4 vote “ends weeks of gridlock between the House and Senate over whether to give tax rebates to teams, particularly the Dolphins, who have pushed hard for years for state help to renovate Sun Life Stadium.” The bill, which “still differs from the House proposal, allows pro sports teams, with the exception of the NBA, to apply to the state" for up to $13M annually to pay for the construction or renovation of a stadium. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity would “evaluate the application, then make recommendations to the Legislature, which would have the final say-so.” The bill also “requires local referendums for counties to approve the project.” Miami is looking for “some form of assistance" for a $400M renovation to Sun Life Stadium (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/30). In Miami, Tolu Olorunnipa wrote the Dolphins "still face major hurdles in Tallahassee, where the House must approve a sports package before the full Legislature officially adjourns on Friday.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott also “must sign off on the legislation.” Goodell after meeting with Scott said final approval by Scott, the Legislature and with Miami-Dade voters would "send a strong message" to NFL owners, who meet next month to decide the host cities for upcoming Super Bowls. But Goodell warned that he “could not guarantee Miami would land a Super Bowl even if the May 14 stadium referendum passes” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 4/29).

WHEELS COMING OFF? In Daytona Beach, Eileen Zaffiro-Kean notes Daytona Int'l Speedway officials "are still waiting to see what will become of bills crafted to give the racing giant well over" $70M in sales tax rebates. Two bills as of yesterday “hadn’t been scheduled for discussion and votes on the floors of the House and Senate.” DIS Senior PR Dir Lenny Santiago said that track President Joie Chitwood III “wasn’t in Tallahassee Monday, but he most likely will make a trip to the state capital later this week.” Chitwood has said that if the bills fail to pass, the "timing and scope of the proposed Speedway overhaul which could include everything from new seats to new restaurants could be impacted.” However, State Rep. Dwayne Taylor “suspects a measure that includes the Speedway and other professional sports organizations will ultimately get support at the end of the week" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 4/30).

SWITCHING FIELDS: In Orlando, Schlueb & Damron wrote the USL Orlando City Soccer Club is counting on a $30M state-sales-tax rebate "to help pay" for a new $110M stadium, a "requirement if the minor-league team is to move up" to MLS. Team Owner & President Phil Rawlins in an e-mail wrote, "If legislation does not get passed this year, it is likely MLS will choose to locate their expansion team in Atlanta or Nashville rather than in Orlando." Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer this week took “a quick trip to Houston" to tour the MLS Dynamo's BBVA Compass Stadium, which was “built for about the same amount as has been proposed in Orlando” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/29).
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