SBJ/April 1-7, 2013/Facilities

Dolphins plan to repay state for stadium funds

In line with earlier news that the Miami Dolphins will repay Miami-Dade County for its contribution to a desired $389 million upgrade of Sun Life Stadium, the team last Wednesday said it plans to repay $47 million the state would contribute to the targeted project, as well.

The Florida Legislature is considering a bill to provide $3 million a year to help fund the modernization of the stadium by providing a sales tax rebate on goods and services sold at the venue.

Team officials also are asking the county to increase the bed tax on mainland hotels by a penny, a request that the legislature also has to vet.

Dolphins ownership now would pay back a total of $167 million in public money: $120 million to the county and $47 million to the state. The state and county money would be repaid at the end of the tax deal’s life, in 2043.

The team has agreed to sign a 30-year, non-relocation agreement to keep the team in Miami-Dade.

County residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on the bed tax increase and the money being used for the stadium upgrade through a referendum, tentatively set for May.

“We are not only committed to bringing Super Bowls, BCS Championships and international soccer to Miami by modernizing Sun Life Stadium, but we are also committed to crafting a fair and advantageous agreement for taxpayers,” said Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, in a statement.

“Today, we have taken a huge step towards those goals by agreeing to pay the state of Florida back the money used to finance the construction project.”

Late last month, Dee said he had received indications during the NFL’s annual meeting in Phoenix that Miami was in the running for Super Bowl L or LI — if it were to make the upgrades to Sun Life Stadium, which opened in 1987. The winning host cities for those games, in 2016 and 2017, are set to be announced May 22.

Dee also said the Dolphins have agreed to make the county’s funding contingent on Miami becoming a Super Bowl host city, a requirement Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez had already voiced. He said the team is willing to cover the cost of the referendum, as well.

The county is exploring whether that is possible.

Oscar Pedro Musibay writes for the South Florida Business Journal, an affiliated publication.
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