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M-D Commission Approves Sun Life Renovation Resolution

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An artist rendering of proposed changes to Sun Life Stadium (Source: Miami Dolphins)

An artist rendering of proposed changes to Sun Life Stadium (Source: Miami Dolphins)

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Miami Dolphins

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami-Dade Commission approved a resolution Wednesday that urges the Florida Legislature to give it the power to enact more taxes to help pay for major renovations to Sun Life Stadium.

The hot-button issue was contained in a resolution sponsored by Commissioner Barbara Jordan. The resolution sought to ask the Legislature to add a penny of professional sports bed tax and asks the state to give a sales tax rebate for the purchase of goods and services at Sun Life Stadium.

“I like to call it, it comes from other people’s money,” from Commissioner Barbara Jordan. “Not from the money from Miami-Dade County residents, but people who visit our community.”

According to the resolution, Miami-Dade County is pushing the bill to help aid the process of bidding for Super Bowl L in 2016 and Super Bowl LI in 2017. The resolution stated that Miami-Dade County and its businesses receive more than $300 million in economic benefits from hosting a Super Bowl.

The resolution from Commissioner Jordan said the additional bed tax would be “on persons (mostly visitors and tourists) lodging on the mainland of Miami-Dade County (which under current law, would exclude Miami Beach, Surfside, and Bal Harbour).”

The resolution also claims that upgrading Sun Life Stadium would “create approximately 3,700 construction jobs, an incremental 1,100 permanent jobs, and $2 billion in overall economic benefit to Miami-Dade County over a 15 year period.”

The Miami Dolphins started the push for stadium upgrades to Sun Life Stadium last week. The plan calls for roughly half of the $400 million upgrade to be paid for by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and the rest coming from the hotel tax and sales tax rebate.

The plan from the Dolphins was met with support from many in the business community, but with trepidation and downright scorn from taxpayers, including billionaire Norman Braman. Braman sued to stop the construction of Marlins Park several years ago and has been a vocal opponent of public financing for stadium construction.

“We are not going to get a Super Bowl if we put it to a vote?  That’s baloney. That’s absolute hogwash. Let the people decide,” Braman said. “This is Marlins two…revisited. This is the same demand for public dollars that should be spent by private people who are improving their business.”

The Marlins’ actions to get its park built and what it did with the team in the offseason has made getting funding for the Dolphins more difficult. The Marlins refused to open their books during the negotiations for the current stadium, with good reason.

“The stench on the Marlins deal is in the pores of everything that this conversation is about. Let’s make no mistake it,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban Bovo.

The Marlins constantly cried poverty, yet were pocketing tens of millions of dollars from revenue sharing and other sources while refusing to invest in the roster. The Dolphins have said they are willing to open their books to help secure the funding for a renovated stadium.

The Marlins also showed complete disregard for the very fans who paid for Marlins Park in the offseason when owner Jeffrey Loria gave the order to get rid of nearly every major player the Marlins had in a massive salary dump.

The Marlins are now expected to finish in dead last again this season and are once again ready to cry poverty from lost stadium revenue due to lower attendance and concession sales.

“This is not the Florida Marlins. It is clearly something different,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman.

“Believe me, I will never bring anything to this body, anywhere close to the financing that we had for the Marlins stadium,” Mayor Gimenez said.

Against that backdrop, the Dolphins have to convince the Florida Legislature to back their plan. Commissioner Jordan’s resolution was the first step in the process.

If the legislature moves quickly, the Dolphins could make the pitch to the NFL for Super Bowl L with the new stadium renovations in place by the time the 50th Anniversary Super Bowl comes around. Miami will be competing against San Francisco and Houston for the Super Bowl.

San Francisco, technically Santa Clara, is building a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium for the 49ers which will cost upwards of $1 billion. The new stadium will be the centerpiece of the pitch from the Bay Area to host Super Bowl L.

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