Dolphins Stadium Renovations Plans Moving Forward

Streeter Lecka

The Miami Dolphins are currently asking the Florida State Legislature to approve a public funding plan that would provide around $199 million to the team for upgrades to Sun Life Stadium. The proposed plan received another victory yesterday, passing out of the State Senate's Commerce and Tourism Committee.

The Miami Dolphins are hoping to receive around $199 million in public funding for renovations to Sun Life Stadium. The plan, if passed, would commit Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to contribute at least $201 million to combine with the public funding. The proposed plan received another win on its road to approval yesterday.

The Florida State Senate's Commerce and Tourism Committee was the first step in Senator Oscar Braynon's (D-Miami Gardens) sponsored bill SB-306. The committee passed the bill on to the Senate's Appropriates Subcommittee on Finance and Tax for a hearing. There is no set date for that hearing.

The State House of Representatives has a parallel bill, HR-165, sponsored by Representative Eduardo Gonzelz (R-Hialeah).

"This bill covers one team," said Senate Commerce and Tourism Chair Nancy Detert, R-Venice, about SB-306. "We all but put your picture in the Florida statutes. I've never done a bill that just benefits one person statutorily, and I have a real concern with that."

The bill allows for one professional sports franchise to receive $3 million in tax rebates each year for 30 years to offset the costs of renovating a publicly owned stadium, or a privately owned stadium on public lands and used as a professional sports team's home stadium. The stadium has to be more than 20 years old, generate $3 million in sales tax annually, have more than $250 million in renovations planned, have team owners willing to pay for at least 50% of the cost, and the team commit to remaining in the stadium for 20 more years.

The Miami Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium are the only Florida team/stadium that meet all of those requirements. Despite Sen. Detert's concerns, the bill passed the committee with an 11-0 vote.

The $3 million in sales tax rebate would only affect goods sold within Sun Life Stadium, and, as the bill stipulates, only if the Stadium generates $3 million in sales tax revenue. All of the professional sports teams in the state, other than the Dolphins, already have a similar measure in place.

The Dolphins are also asking the Legislature to authorize Miami-Dade county to increase the "bed tax," a state tax on hotel rooms, by one cent to $0.07. The increase is already authorized by law, the legislature just has to approve Miami-Dade's usage of it. If the Legislature were to approve the bed tax increase, it would then be up to the Miami-Dade County Commission to decide to implement the increase.

The Dolphins are hoping to complete all of the funding hurdles for the renovations before the NFL decides the host site for Super Bowl L. The 50th anniversary game will be held in 2016, with Sun Life Stadium and the currently-being-built Santa Clara stadium for the San Francisco 49ers as the two finalists for the game.

The renovations to the stadium, to include a canopy roof over the seating area, improved lighting, new video boards, and the seating moved 18-feet closer to the sidelines, are designed to keep Sun Life Stadium competitive in Super Bowl bids, as well as in the soon-to-be established NCAA National Championship Game bid process.

The NFL will decide which site wins Super Bowl L in May, or 104 days from now, according to the website MiamiFirst.com, a site the team started to assist in the plan for Sun Life's renovations.

You can read Senate Bill 306 here.

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