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What Now For Dolphins And Sun Life?

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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 (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins’ plans to renovate Sun Life Stadium died in the Florida House Friday. The defeat could end up costing South Florida millions of dollars in revenue from future Super Bowl’s and left fans in the area asking, what now?

Previously, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has intimated that South Florida may not be considered for another Super Bowl if significant upgrades weren’t made to Sun Life Stadium. That helped spark the push for the renovation plan at Sun Life Stadium.

The plan was to get legislative and voter approval to use public money in addition to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ money to pay for the renovations. Then the renovated stadium would have been the focal point of the area’s pitch to host either Super Bowl L or Super Bowl LI.

The Dolphins and its backers said hosting more Super Bowls would bring in millions of dollars to the area, more jobs during the Super Bowls, and the renovation of Sun Life would have contributed up to 4,000 construction jobs.

When House Speaker Will Weatherford refused to let the multiple bills the stadium plan was attached to come up for a vote; Weatherford set in motion a chain of events that could leave South Florida out of luck when it comes to football and Super Bowls.

The lack of renovations to Sun Life will most likely send Super Bowl L to the city of Santa Clara, California and its brand new $1.2 billion stadium. In addition, Super Bowl LI is likely headed to Houston and Reliant Stadium, which was opened in 2002.

Ross said in a statement Friday that he would try to convince fellow owners to send the Super Bowl back, but it may be too late.

“The Bid Committee has done a tremendous job to give us a great shot, and my only hope is that it is enough to overcome the terrible message Speaker Weatherford has sent to the NFL tonight,” Ross wrote.

The feud between Ross and Weatherford seems to be just getting started. Ross said Friday, “In the future, I will look to play an important role in fixing the dysfunction in Tallahassee and will continue to work to create good jobs in Miami Dade and throughout South Florida.”

The statement could be a shot across the bow of Weatherford saying Ross and his money are coming to Tallahassee to make some changes. Ross and Weatherford’s feud is even attracting the attention of the NFL Players Association.

Assistant Executive Director George Attallah of the NFLPA tweeted Saturday, “I am interested to see how this plays out in Florida between the owner and the Speaker.”

Without a renovated stadium, Sun Life is quickly becoming one of the oldest stadiums still in usage in the NFL. While the renovation plan was to cost roughly $350 million, the cost of a new stadium could reach upwards of $1 billion.

Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami are already on the hook for upwards of $2.4 billion for the cost of Marlins Park, so adding to the debt isn’t a popular issue for voters. On the other hand, the new stadium being constructed in Atlanta is expected to cost around $1 billion with the public contribution limited to $200 million.

South Florida and the Miami Dolphins now enter an unknown future after the renovation bill stalled in the Florida House.

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