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Deadline Looms For Sun Life Deal

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Sun Life Stadium Upgrade Rendering (Source: Miami Dolphins)

Sun Life Stadium Upgrade Rendering (Source: Miami Dolphins)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Time is growing perilously short for the Miami Dolphins and the South Florida Super Bowl Committee to put together a public referendum vote on whether or not to contribute public money to the renovation of Sun Life Stadium.

As of Tuesday, the National Football League announced that Houston had submitted its proposal for Super Bowl LI and Miami had submitted it’s proposal for Super Bowl L to the league, according to Greg Aiello of the NFL.

The date all parties have been keeping their eyes on is May 22. That’s the date the NFL owners are scheduled to meet and during those meetings, the decision will be made on who to award Super Bowl L to, Santa Clara, California, or Miami.

But, next Friday, April 12, is just as significant a date for the Dolphins and the Super Bowl Committee. According to the law, a decision must be made by the end of the day on April 12 on whether to hold a special referendum vote on May 14, CBS4’s Gary Nelson reports.

May 14 is the target date for Miami-Dade County because several municipal elections are already scheduled to be held, according to Nelson. The vote would be over whether to give up more than $200 million in local tourist tax money to help finance the renovation of Sun Life Stadium.

The Dolphins are desperate to get the money and the upgrade for Sun Life. Without the upgrade, Sun Life may never host another Super Bowl or other major championship games as billion dollar stadiums elsewhere offer more luxury than Sun Life could.

The Dolphins have vowed to repay both the state and county for their contributions to the stadium and have said thousands of local jobs would be created from the renovation project. The state legislature must also give its blessing to the plan, but that is seen basically as a formality at this point.

Tuesday, the Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously to push the bill towards the Senate floor for debate and an eventual vote.

It’s possible that a special vote could be held on a separate date than the municipal elections, Nelson reported. The Dolphins have offered to help pay for a special election, but the legality of that offer has yet to be decided.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez told CBS4’s Nelson in a Tuesday interview that without the Dolphins paying for the vote and the vote itself are mandatory and won’t be negotiated. Gimenez said a ruling on the legality of the Fins paying for the election woudl come from either the Secretary of State’s office or in a bill from the legislature.

Keeping it on the 14th would avoid problems associated with a vote on a separate date and give the Dolphins time to formulate any backup options if the voters of Miami-Dade County rejected the plan from the team.

The Dolphins have not indicated a backup plan is ready if the voters reject the stadium renovation plan during a special election.

In addition to the upgrades to the stadium, South Florida must put together around $21 million in funding for the Super Bowl, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald. The target amount will be roughly $4 million less than San Francisco is targeting for the same game.

Fins owner Stephen Ross has promised that if the plan is passed by the voters, all Super Bowl activities will be focused in Miami-Dade County. South Florida has hosted a record 10 Super Bowls, but Super Bowl L has been the toughest game for the area to win in recent memory.

If Super Bowl L, or Super Bowl LI is given to the area, it’s possible the game will be held on the same weekend as the Miami International Boat Show.

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