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Light Turnout On First Day Of Early Voting On Stadium Plan

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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)

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 got underway on Monday, but if the first day is any indication, the county is on track for a typical 10 to 15 percent voter turnout for an election like this.

“I wanted to make sure I voted,” said Maylen Delgado who went to the West Dade Regional Library to cast her ballot.  “I’m not in favor of using tax money for that sort of thing.”

The Miami Dolphins insist the stadium upgrades will be a big benefit to South Florida’s economy. Marian Herald agrees but doesn’t think tourist tax dollars should pay for it.

“Joe Robbie had no more money than these guys and he used his own to build the stadium. So why can’t they use theirs,” said Herald.

Herald admitted she doesn’t exactly bleed ‘aqua an orange’, “I’m on the bandwagon, if they’re winning, I’ll watch.”

But others at the library said they support the proposal.

“It will create opportunities for getting the Super Bowl, a lot of events and so forth in the stadium,” said Manuel Rodriguez.

At the Miami-Dade Elections headquarters in Doral no one was really surprised that there wasn’t a rush of early voters.

“Turnout so far today has been pretty light but that’s common on the first day of early voting,” said deputy elections supervisor Christine White.

The slow start may be partly due to the fact that elections managers had half the amount of time to advertise this election than they normally do.

“Typically we have about 60 days at least to prepare for an election, in this case it was somewhere around 34, but we took all the same quality assurance measures, we did all the same types of public awareness that we could. It was just within the shorter time frame,” said White.

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.

Sample Ballot for May 14th Special Election

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 family 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 with share his sentiment.

MacDougall has spoken against the plan to legislators in Tallahassee. He and billionaire Norman Braman, who has also vocally opposed the renovations, created a website “www.stopthestadiummadness.us.”

Both sides have tried to draw voters to the polls, but many Miami-Dade residents who spoke to CBS4’s Maggie Newland on Sunday said they weren’t aware of the special election at all.

“I’m uninformed, which special election” asked Lowell Price who added that he’d have to do some research before voting.

Only a couple of people Newland spoke with about the referendum had strong opinions.

“I don’t think that taxpayers of any kind, hotel guests or anything, should spend money for private benefits,” said John Dent who added he’ll vote “no”.

Manuel Rodriguez plans to vote “yes.”

“It will create opportunities for getting in the Super Bowl, a lot of events and so forth in the stadium,” he said.

Click Here for early voting locations and hours.

But the vote may be for nothing if the legislature doesn’t act first. Click here to read what the legislature is doing to move the stadium bill along.

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