SBD/May 14, 2013/Facilities

Dolphins, Ross Spent $10M Over Six Weeks In Campaign For Public Stadium Funding

Sun Life Stadium renovation campaign costs included $1.6M for radio and TV ads
The Dolphins and Owner Stephen Ross “spent a staggering" $10M over the past six weeks campaigning for voters to support public funding for Sun Life Stadium renovations in a "special election that never happened,” according to Patricia Mazzei of the MIAMI HERALD. Records show that Dolphins political action committee Friends of Miami First since April 1 raised $4.97M and spent $4.49M. All contributions “came from the Dolphins and Ross, through South Florida Stadium LLC, the corporate entity that owns the stadium.” The $10M total “does not include expenses that do not have to be reported because they were not part of the election campaign, including lobbyist and public-relations consultant fees incurred before county commissioners agreed to hold the referendum.” Even without the cost to cover the election, the Dolphins’ “sprint of a campaign ranks among the most expensive waged” in Miami-Dade, including a “likely expensive endorsement in Spanish” from La Liga club Real Madrid MF Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo’s fee “is not listed in the latest finance report.” Campaign payments “went to a slew of consultants, including more than $850,000” to N.Y.-based Mercury Public Affairs, which managed the effort. More than $1.6M went to Alexandria, Va.-based Multimedia Services Corp. for "radio and television advertising," and $250,000 to DC-based New Partners Consulting “for a campaign expense listed as ‘phones.’” The campaign locally “paid more than $528,000 to Marin & Sons,” run by Miami consultant Steven Marin, to “print and mail fliers” (MIAMI HERALD, 5/14).

WHAT'S NEXT? In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis wrote it is “undetermined when the next call will come for public money.” Indications are the Dolphins “won't knock on that door again” until Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford “vacates the leadership post after next year.” The team “for the short-term” will “continue to play in Sun Life as is, even if the Super Bowl doesn’t.” But “push will eventually come to shove.” L.A. already has “been mentioned, as it always is when a franchise is in need of a better stadium” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 5/12).

PALM READING: In West Palm Beach, Frank Cerabino wrote under the header, “Palm Beach County Can’t Be Dolphins’ Rebound Relationship.” The Dolphins failing to obtain public funding is “no excuse to be pretending to be tossing away a 26-year relationship with Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens by running into our arms.” That is “like getting jilted by your longtime sweetheart and reacting by putting the moves on her little sister.” Palm Beach County “shouldn’t be taken seriously.” Cerabino: “Who’s going to believe the citizens of Palm Beach County are itching for a chance to pay for a 60,000-seat-football-stadium spawned by spite?” (PALM BEACH POST, 5/12). Also in West Palm Beach, Randy Schultz wrote building a stadium in Palm Beach County “would be prohibitively expensive.” The county would be “mere leverage as the Dolphins tried to get more from Miami-Dade” (PALM BEACH POST, 5/12).
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