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Early Vote Tally Shows Stadium Proposal Was Failing

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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) – Early and absentee ballots for a short lived county referendum which asked voters to approve the use of tax dollars for Sun Life Stadium improvements have been tallied and the numbers show the initial vote was not going in favor of the Miami Dolphins plan.

More than 1.2 million registered voters in Miami-Dade could have cast ballots in the May 14th Special Election. The county said only 60,678 ballots were cast in five days of early and absentee voting before the stadium bill failed to come up before the end of the legislative session Tallahassee making the referendum moot. Miami-Dade elections officials said the number of votes cast in early and absentee voting represented roughly five percent of all eligible voters.

Of the 60,000 plus votes cast, 25,898 were for the stadium deal; that’s about 42 percent of the vote. However, 57 percent of the votes, 34,780, were against the plan.

“The vote statistics released are not a clear picture of how the entire county feels because it’s a very small amount,” said Rodney Barreto, Chair of the South Florida Super Bowl Committee. “The Dolphins ran a full campaign and this was not a full election.”

Miami First, a coalition created in support of the bill, said the people of Miami-Dade should have had the final say in the matter.

“Today is another reminder that all Miami-Dade residents should have had an opportunity to vote. Based on these incomplete results, we were ahead of our internal projections. These numbers simply validate our belief that had all of Miami-Dade voters had the opportunity to make their voices heard, we are confident the modernization of Sun Life Stadium would have prevailed,” said Miami First spokesman Eric Jotkoff.

Those in the business of selling South Florida said Super Bowls are fine, they bring folks to town, they sell hotel rooms, but they’re not the be all and end all.

“The Super Bowl is a major event. The BCS Championship is a major event. We love all of our children,” said William Talbert, President of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Talbert went on to say South Florida has many “children,” or major events that bring visitors who spend money and fill hotels: The Sony Open Tennis Championship, the Cadillac Golf Championship at Doral, Art Basel, The Ultra Music Fest, NASCAR championship racing at Homestead Motor Speedway – not to mention the everyday sun, sand and sea that draws millions of visitors every year.

Since the Dolphins wrote a check for more than $4 million to cover the special election, the county will see a bit of a windfall.

“While the referendum election was not fully realized, I’m proud that we crafted an agreement that made sure our voters had the final say on the stadium issue. Just as important, this referendum did not cost our taxpayers any money – in fact, we estimate that there will be over one million dollars remaining that can be used to meet other County needs,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez in a statement.

County Commissioners Tuesday approved a resolution supporting South Florida’s bid for Super Bowl 50 or 51. The chances of the bid succeeding are viewed as diminished because of the failure to move on creating a more attractive venue at Sun Life.

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