MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross have reached a general agreement on renovations to Sun Life Stadium that will require Ross to spend his own money to refurbish the aging facility with the county agreeing to begin providing “grants” to the team when they bring major events to South Florida like a Super Bowl.
“We’re close to a deal,” Gimenez told CBS4’s Jim DeFede during a Friday taping of Facing South Florida. (The show will air Sunday at 11:30 am)
Gimenez, Ross, and their respective staffs, met for at least three hours Friday morning to discuss the deal.
Gimenez kept stressing this was not a “subsidy” for the team. He referred to it instead as an “incentive” or a “grant” since Ross would be responsible for paying for the $400 million in improvements to the 27-year-old stadium.
“And if he brings certain marquee events in, we could give him grants for bringing that in,” Gimenez said. “But the grants are much smaller than the economic impact of that event.”
For instance, if the Super Bowl were to return to South Florida, the county would pay the team approximately $4 million from its tourist taxes. Gimenez would not confirm the exact amount the team would receive for a Super Bowl but said: “You’re pretty close but I’m not going to say what that is because we haven’t finalized those negotiations yet, but they are pretty close to being final.”
There would also be set payments for other events such as a college football championship, international soccer tournaments, and other major events.
Those final figures will be negotiated over the weekend, Gimenez said.
“We’re working on it now during the weekend and so hopefully we can bring something to the commission maybe by the next commission meeting in a couple of weeks,” he said.
Gimenez said there would be a limit to how much the team could receive in any single year.
“You couldn’t stack up a whole bunch of them to create a big number,” he said. “In other words, we have pretty small number that’s the cap for any one year that we’ll pay.”
He said the Dolphins would only receive funding “after we have already taken care of increasing our subsidies to museums and to our cultural facilities that we have.”
Gimenez had previously negotiated a deal with the Dolphins that would see them receive new tax breaks to pay for the stadium renovations. At the time Gimenez referred to it as the best possible deal he could get for the county.
Asked if in hindsight he was wrong about that, given the fact that Ross will now renovate the stadium without that help, Gimenez responded with a smile: “I’m just more right this time.”