Mayor: Plans for stadium renovations up to voters
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Miami-Dade County's mayor has confirmed that the fate of the Miami Dolphins $400 million stadium upgrade will be in the hands of voters.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez made the announcement during a news conference with the Miami Dolphins Monday morning. "We, my administration and the Miami Dolphins organization, agreed to, that any potential deal to renovate Sun Life Stadium will be subject to a binding public referendum. This is a must," said Gimenez.
During the conference, Gimenez and the Miami Dolphins agreed to let the potential upgrades go to vote. "We believe it's the right thing to do. We believe that this will greatly enhance our efforts in Tallahassee. We've great momentum there now," said Miami Dolphins CEO Mike Dee. "Early feedback since this news broke over the weekend has been enormously positive, that this should put legislation, we hope, on a fast track."
The goal is to land future Super Bowls, specifically, Super Bowl L in 2016. "Everybody would really give what they could to get a Super Bowl in their back yard," said Rodney Barreto, "because they are such economic generators."
Landing the Super Bowl has become a high stakes game within the NFL. League Commissioner Roger Goodell has said Sun Life needs upgrades to remain competitive in the bidding process.
The improvements would include better seats, closer seating and a canopy to protect fans from mother nature. Team Owner Stephen Ross has said private money would make up roughly half the $400 million tab. A state panel has already approved chipping in $3 million for 30 years, with a final decision still months away. "The fact that it was unanimous," said Dee, "we think sent a loud message the economic impact of what we're proposing is stark."
Miami-Dade voters would decide whether to raise the bed tax a penny to 7 percent. If voters give the plan the green light, it would be the second recent publicly-funded stadium.
Distrust and dissatisfaction still lingers for many from the deal to largely fund Marlins Park with county tax dollars. The team vowed to be competitive, then traded its best players months later.
Marlins President David Samson said, Saturday, he hopes the Dolphins get the deal. "The fact of the matter is they're different deals," said Samson, "and I understand what the people working for the Dolphins are trying to do."
Activist Norman Braman has repeated his anti-public help stance. "This is still welfare for a multi-billionaire," said Braman. "It's wrong."
Current State law requires the public to fund a special election. However, Commissioner Xavier Suarez, said, "No way on that. But there's ways around that, I think, to make it revenue neutral, so that the County doesn't lose any money."
The Dolphins will likely want the vote on the bed tax increase, which will only affect hotels in mainland Maimi-Dade, to take place before May 22. That is after when the NFL will choose the 2016 Super Bowl host city, sometime in April.
Gimenez said he wants guarantees from the NFL commission that, if this goes through, the city will indeed get the Super Bowl L.
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