Reporting David Sutta
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MIAMI (CBS4) – The biggest thorn in the side of the public financing of Marlins Park was billionaire Norman Braman. With the Dolphins now asking for public money to help renovate Sun Life Stadium, Braman is back to fight against the new stadium deal.
Braman said he’s not surprised to see the Dolphins deal moving forward so quickly. He said it’s a case of history repeating itself.
“You’ve got the same commissioners that voted for the Marlins transaction that are voting for this one,” Braman said. “This is just a giveaway. There is no difference between this and the Marlins deal. The Mayor can say all he wants but it’s still corporate welfare.”
If Braman’s argument sounds familiar, it’s almost exactly the same wording used by the Republican Executive Committee of Miami-Dade County in a warning it issued to Miami-Dade Republican state legislators.
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The Republican Executive Committee of Miami-Dade’s resolution read in part, “Tax-payers should never be the source of corporate welfare for billionaires, and should not be responsible for the funds to renovate Sun Life Stadium for the Miami Dolphins.”
The Republican Executive Committee plan went on to call the stadium renovation proposal “corporate welfare for billionaires,” “socialism for the rich,” “distribution of wealth to private parties from tax revenue,” and against free market economic policies.
Braman has also made the same arguments against a stadium deal in the past. In 2009, Braman was one of the few people in a position of power to fight against the building and financing of Marlins Park.
He unsuccessfully sued to stop Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami from paying for the park without having taxpayers agree to the deal.
The Marlins Park deal was arguably the worst public/private financing deal ever agreed to by a local government. The total cost will end up being roughly $2.4 billion to the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County.
“I think the Mayor (Carlos Gimenez) forgot why he was elected Mayor,” Braman said. “I think this transaction is even worse than the Marlins transaction simply because of the ability of the owner, Stephen Ross, to pay for this himself.”
The Dolphins and other local politicians have tried to sell the stadium upgrades as capable of bringing in future marquee events, like Super Bowls, which are economic boons for the local economy. Braman said that theory is a farce and everyone, including the Mayor, knows it.
“He said the roof had nothing to do with the Super Bowl, nothing at all,” Braman said. “Well, the roof and lighting probably constitute about 80-90 percent of the cost of this stadium. If it has nothing to do with the Super Bowl, then why, why are we even doing it?”
For now, Braman said he believes the deal will ultimately die in Tallahassee where legislators will likely vote on two measures: one to allow residents to increase the tourist tax and the other approving a sales tax rebate for the stadium.
If the legislature doesn’t stop the deal as Braman wants, the auto dealer said he’ll open up his wallet to support an opposing campaign.
“I will do what is required as I’ve said all along to fight this corporate welfare for a multi-billionaire,” Braman said. “It’s a rip-off and I will do what I can.”