Reporting Tim Kephart
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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – So far, so good for the Miami Dolphins pitch to the state legislature for a renovation plan for Sun Life Stadium. The bill has passed its first committee hearing Tuesday by a unanimous vote.
The vote came after a host of people including Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, State Seator Oscar Braynon and others made a presentation of the benefits of a stadium renovation to the committee.
CBS4′s David Sutta is in Tallahassee and will have more from the hearing starting at noon Tuesday.
“This is a critical time for our community with respect to the future of big time events coming to South Florida,” said Dolphins CEO Mike Dee.
The $400 million renovation for Sun Life would protect fans from the elements and help modernize the stadium. The renovations would help South Florida jump back into the rotation of sites for the Super Bowl.
It would also increase Miami’s standing as the Bowl Championship Series goes away after this year and a four-team college playoff begins with the end of the 2014 college football season.
While it has mixed support in South Florida, the toughest critics may be legislators who are being asked to foot half the bill. Miami Gardens Senator Oscar Braynon’s bill includes:
- Roughly $200 million would be raised for renovations from increasing taxes charged on hotel rooms in Miami-Dade from 6 percent to 7.
- The Dolphins would also receive an annual three million dollar sales tax rebate
- In exchange, the team would foot 51% of the bill.
The biggest issue for the Dolphins is separating their stadium renovation plan from the fleecing of taxpayers the Marlins pulled off when they built Marlins Park. The Marlins stadium deal has complicated the Dolphins deal as taxpayers don’t want any money going for stadiums for any reason.
Norman Braman, one of the most vocal critics of the Marlins plan is also critical of this plan saying Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is worth $4 billion and should foot the bill himself.
“This will not pass finally in Tallhassee,” Braman said. “It will probably get past the committee this week. But that’s throwing a bone to the lobbyist.”
South Florida’s Super Bowl committee has endorsed the stadium upgrades, saying it will help as they compete with the San Francisco 49er’s new stadium for Super Bowl 50.
The Florida House has many more critics of the plan than the Senate and while a committee vote is good, victory will be declared once the bill makes it past a floor vote in both houses of the legislature.