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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Ever since Joe Robbie built it nearly three decades ago, the stadium where the Miami Dolphins play, and the land around it, has been regulated by Miami Dade County.
When the city of Miami Gardens was created around Sun Life, then Pro Player Stadium in 2003, it was with the caveat that government regulation of the stadium and surrounding turf would remain with the county.
Miami Gardens, however, is suing now, arguing Sun Life is in its city and should be governed by the city.
Mayor Oliver Gilbert III explained the reasoning in an interview with CBS4’s Gary Nelson on Tuesday.
“Just on principle,” said Gilbert. “The idea that people should have a say in what happens in their city. That’s the way it happens in every other jurisdiction in Miami Dade County,” said the Miami Gardens Mayor.
Not everyone is comfortable with the proposed change in Sun Life overseers.
Miami-Dade police worry they could lose a chunk of a small fortune they make providing security at stadium events, and think the deal giving the county control of the property should stand.
“This has always been something that we have understood and the public as understood, that anything involving Sun Life would be under the exclusive control of the county,” said John Rivera, president of the Police Benevolent Association.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he thinks the town has a reasonable request.
“I think what Miami Gardens is trying to say is, ‘Look we’re not a second-class city, we should be treated like a first-class city,'” Gimenez said.
Gimenez pointed, however, to the charter agreement that provides Miami-Dade maintain control of the stadium.
Miami Gardens reads the charter agreement differently, however, and argues that the county control expired in 2012.
Sources in county government, and Miami Gardens city hall, tell CBS4 News the biggest obstacle to a change has been opposition from the Dolphins, who have heavily lobbied county commissioners.
A meeting began late Tuesday with both sides quickly engaging in contentious debate over the law and the stadium.
The law requires the two commissions meet in an effort to settle the matter prior to the lawsuit going forward.
The Dolphins apparently did not expect an agreement to be reached.
Their assessment wasn’t far off.
“Nothing was accomplished,” said Gilbert.
County commissioners did agree to hammer out a “concept” that would address the issue.
“An item will come before the full board bringing forth the concept of the city of Miami Gardens taking full authority over the stadium and stadium property,” said Commissioner Barbara Jordan.
Miami Gardens is determined to pursue the issue “to the Florida Supreme Court” said Mayor Gilbert. With the Dolphins planning to use their remodeled stadium for events year-round, Miami Gardens wants to be sure it has a say in what events and what changes are permitted and how.