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Early Voting Begins Monday On Fins Stadium Bill

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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) – Miami-Dade residents will get their chance to weigh in on tax dollar funding for renovations to Sun Life Stadium this week.

Early voting begins on Monday.

On the ballot, voters will be asked to approve using 7,500,000 dollars a year, adjusted annually for growth, from additional tourist room taxes to modernize the stadium.

Conditions that also must be met are that the Dolphins’ remaining long-term in county, private funding must be used for a majority of the costs, the stadium owners must pay the county at least 112,000,000 dollars in 30 years, the stadium owners would also be responsible for penalties up to 120,000,000 dollars for not bringing premier football and soccer events to stadium and being awarded a Super Bowl this May.

Miami First, a political action committee created to support and promote the stadium deal, has been blanketing Miami-Dade County with pro-stadium paraphernalia.

“It’s a full-fledged campaign, from phone banks to phone calls to direct mail, reminding voters to go vote,” said Jorge Arrizurieta

Meanwhile others are fighting the stadium plan.

“My familiy will go out and vote and we are opposed to this,” said Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall who added that the voters he’s talked to share his sentiment.

MacDougall has spoken against the plan to legislators in Tallahassee.

“Any five days in the legislative process is like dog years, especially the last five days, so we’re down to the fourth quarter and important things always happen in the fourth quarter, especially in Tallahassee,” said Arrizurieta. “We’re confident, we’re optimistic this bill will prevail.”

The state Senate is set to vote on the bill this week. The House version of the bill died on Friday.

The legislature has to allow a sales tax exemption to pass, along with allowing Miami-Dade County voters to decide on using tourist dollars to help with the renovation, or the deal can’t even move to a public vote.

If the Senate passes the bill, the House could then take it up. A House committee would still have to approve the bill and then it would be sent to the floor of the House for a vote on final passage.

Time is running out, however, since the legislative session is scheduled to end on May 3rd.

Without the stadium renovations, the possibility of future Super Bowls in South Florida likely becomes a moot point. The NFL has indicated in the past that to get another Super Bowl, Sun Life Stadium will have to undergo major renovations and redesigns.

In other words, the House has hundreds of millions of dollars and possibly thousands of jobs during the construction and during multiple Super Bowl’s in its hands right now with no clear path to the proverbial end zone.

If the bill makes it through the legislature, a special election in Miami-Dade is set for May 14th.

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