MIAMI (CBS4) – Now that the bill to renovate Sun Life Stadium using public financing has failed in the state legislature, local voters won’t get a chance to decide the stadium’s fate on May 14th.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement Friday canceling the special election.
Commissioner Xavier Suarez, who voted against the deal in the first place, wasn’t surprised it didn’t make it out of Tallahassee alive.
“Why go through all of this? I’m a little bit embarrassed for all of us,” Suarez said. “People are voting. My wife already voted by absentee ballot.”
According the Miami-Dade Elections Department, at least 52,000 people had already sent in absentee ballots and another 7,000 had voted at one of twenty early voting sites.
All but two of those will now be closed.
Two will remain open to accommodate municipal elections in Sweetwater and North Miami.
Miami First, the group formed to promote the stadium deal, issued a statement Friday.
“This inaction by the Florida House of Representatives is frankly irresponsible and regretful,” the statement read, in part. “The most basic responsibility and right a citizen has is the ability to vote. All we asked for was the opportunity to vote to not be denied.”
In a separate statement, Mayor Gimenez wrote, “It is important to point out that the special election did not cost tax payers any money, as the Dolphins paid the County $4.7 million to cover election expenses – in fact, we estimate that there will be over one million dollars left over that can be used to meet other County needs.”
Auto dealer Norman Braman, a vocal opponent of the deal from day one, proclaimed victory.
“I’m very pleased,” he said in a phone interview with CBS 4′s Lauren Pastrana. “I think it’s a great win for the people of the county and the tax payers.”
So what’s next for Sun Life Stadium?
That’s up to Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross.
Though most commissioners agree something will eventually need to be done.
“I think it’s an issue we’re going to have to deal with,” Commissioner Juan Zapata said.
Zapata voted against the stadium deal because he felt the citizens would not reap enough of the benefits.
However, he is not opposed to considering alternative deals in the future.
“Modernizing our football stadium is something that would help us I think in the long run,” Zapata told Pastrana. “Just how we finance and how we structure the deal is I guess left to be determined.”