FL senate passes bill to approve Sun Life vote
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Late Monday afternoon, the Florida Senate passed a bill approving a vote on renovations at Sun Life Stadium.
The news comes just as Miami-Dade County residents headed to the polls for early voting on whether to approve renovations at the stadium.
On Friday, the Florida House would not hear the issue, creating a temporary setback for the Dolphins. Miami Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said he considers this the fourth quarter, where big things can happen. "I'm very optimistic. I'm optimistic by nature," he said.
Sure enough, on Monday, the Senate passed the modernization bill for the stadium, which means the House must now vote on it.
Earlier that morning, voters were out to voice their own view on the decision to use taxes to partly fund the stadium upgrade that will cost $350 million. "I think we should vote 'Yes,'" said one voter. "I definitely think we need it."
"I don't know maybe what's behind the whole thing, like what happened with the Marlins Stadium, so I voted no," said another voter.
Should the voters approve the plan, owner Stephen Ross will pay 70 percent of the tab. The rest will be paid by a hotel bed tax increase and a sales tax exemption for hotels in mainland Miami-Dade, which is where they need approval.
The Fins had been hoping the Senate would draft its own version of the bill, but now the house will take it up. Should they not approve it, the vote on May 14 may not happen at all and early voting results will be sealed.
The legislative session in Tallahassee will end on Friday. Miami Representative Carlos Trujillo (Rep.-FL) said, "They're down to five days. They are running out of time, and time is definitely on the tax payers' side."
Daytona Beach Representative Dwyane Taylor (Dem.-FL) said, "There is still some hope, and I am hoping we all will accept everything at the end of the day."
Edward MacDougall, the mayor of Cutler Bay, opposes the stadium upgrade and hopes to see the bill stall in Tallahassee. "They're saying it's not a tax," he said. "It is a tax. It's a one percent tax for hotels on the mainland. "A man who has $4.4 billion, who owns a stadium, who owns the ground, who owns the team, and he's coming to my tax payers to ask for money?"
Dee gave a tour last week of the stadium to show the rust and peeling paint there, saying this modernization is a must. "We're very confident we're going to emerge in Tallahassee with legislation that works and enables the voters to decide," he said.
The Fins said the upgrades will mean more Super Bowls and more major sporting events. They argue that means more jobs and economic growth for South Florida.
H.T. Smith supports the stadium upgrade. "Miami is now the big event city of America," he said, "and to have big events and to have them continue to come, we need first class facilities."
As voters head to the polls the ball is still very much up in the air.
There are 20 different early voting locations. Early voting ends May 12 and election day, for now, is scheduled for May 14. Voting locations and hours can be found at http://www.miamidade.gov/elections/vote_early.asp.
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