Dolphins' Stadium Upgrades May Hinge On NFL Committing A Super Bowl To South Florida
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez yesterday said that he "may require the NFL to award South Florida a Super Bowl as a condition for spending county hotel taxes on part of a $400 million renovation of Sun Life Stadium," according to Hanks & Mazzei of the MIAMI HERALD. Gimenez and the Dolphins announced that they have "agreed to let county voters decide whether to use local tax dollars for an upgrade of the team’s stadium and would rush a referendum to be held before the May meeting when NFL owners will award the 2016 and ’17 Super Bowls." Gimenez suggested that, even if the ballot item "passes, he may design the measure to grant county leaders the option of withholding the tax funds if NFL owners snub South Florida." The concept seemed to "bring a quick thumbs-down from the NFL" yesterday afternoon. Miami-Dade commissioners last month voted to "endorse the team’s financing plan, which relies on a new annual $3 million stadium subsidy from the state and raising the county’s mainland hotel taxes to 7 percent, from the current 6." The Dolphins need a "change in state law for both pools of public money." At least three county commissioners have "called for team owner Stephen Ross to pay for the special election, which Gimenez said would cost between $3 million and $4 million." Without a special election, the Dolphins "would have to wait until August 2014 to let voters endorse the stadium plan" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/12). Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said, "This is about Super Bowl 50. The biggest event, frankly, in NFL history." The AP's Steven Wine noted upgrades to the stadium "are expected to cost" about $400M. Ross has "agreed to pay at least 51 percent but might be forced to go higher." Gimenez said, "He started at 51. That's great. I don't believe we're going to end up at 51 percent" (AP, 2/11).
ROCK THE VOTE: In Ft. Lauderdale, Chris Perkins notes the special election is "an abrupt about-face for the Dolphins, who as recently as a month ago claimed there wouldn't be time to hold a public election on the stadium financing issue." Gimenez "changed the Dolphins' thinking." Dee said, "The mayor … gave us a pathway and showed us a plan as to how we could do that together and we embraced it." Neither the county government nor the Dolphins "know when the special election would be held." The Dolphins' finance plan "has to be approved by the mayor." He would then "take it to the Board of County Commissioners to get approval for an election." But the Dolphins and the county government "still have to convince voters this deal is different than Marlins Park" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/12).