MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez hinted Thursday night progress is being made on a deal to revamp Sun Life Stadium using public money.
“We’ll see if we have a deal or not,” Mayor Gimenez said. “We’ll know pretty soon.”
Soon could be as early as Friday after negotiations between Miami-Dade County leaders and Miami Dolphins brass stretched late into the night Thursday.
Gimenez left County Hall around 7:15 p.m. because of a previous engagement, but he returned shortly after 9 o’clock and rejoined the negotiations.
“They’ve said what they needed. And I’ve said kind of like what I’m willing to give. We’re not far apart.
Both sides are trying to agree on a deal over the use of public funds to renovate Sun Life Stadium.
The Dolphins are asking for a portion of new mainland hotel taxes to help foot the bill for the covered seating and upgraded lighting plan that would cost almost $ 400 million.
They’re also looking for state tax breaks.
“We’re making great progress,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said before the meeting started. “The events in Tallahassee give us momentum.”
The proposed deal would keep the team in Miami Gardens for another 30 years.
Dee was optimistic when he entered the meeting at 3 o’clock, following talks earlier in the day.
By 11 p.m., he was still tucked away behind closed doors.
“Time is short as has been documented,” Dee said. “We’re confident we’ll have a deal done by May.”
The Dolphins are hoping a referendum election can be held before the end of May, when NFL owners will meet to decide who will host Super Bowls 50 and 51.
Mayor Gimenez called it a “simple deal”, but they’re still debating what percentage of hotel tax dollars should be given to the team.
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross has said he will rely on private funding to finance more than half of the renovations.
Mayor Gimenez wants to give commissioners at least two days to consider the proposal.
That’s significantly more time than they had to mull over the deal for Marlins Park, a plan he opposed as a commissioner.
“This is not going to be like that deal over there,” the Mayor said as he referenced the Miami Marlins Stadium which can be seen from the window of his 29th floor office at the Stephen P. Clark Center in Downtown Miami. “It’s completely different. It’s a different animal. We’re not going to finance anything.”
Mayor Gimenez said the pace of any deal moving forward will depend heavily upon the Florida division of elections, whom he’s asked to let him know whether he can make the Dolphins pay the $3 million to 5 million it would cost to put on a special election.