The Miami Dolphins are looking to complete a series of renovations to Sun Life Stadium that, they say, will keep the site in competition for Super Bowls and NCAA National Championship games. Included in those renovations are a canopy over the seating area, moving the seats closer to the field, new video boards, and high definition lighting. The project is expected to cost around $400 million, with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pledging to pay "at least" more than 50%. The Dolphins have asked for rest of the money, or about $199 million, from public funding.
The team has proposed a $3 million per year rebate on the sales tax from goods and services sold within the stadium, as well as a one-cent increase in the hotel tax, also known as the "bed" tax. The request for those changes are already working their way through the State Legislature in Tallahassee, but the stiffest competition is likely to come at the local level.
Miami-Dade County were burned last year when Marlins Park, the new stadium that took the Florida Marlins out of Sun Life Stadium and gave the Miami Marlins their own home, opened. The baseball only stadium was largely paid for by public funding, as the Marlins argued that the team was losing money in Sun Life Stadium, and would not be able to sustain a South Florida presence without the stadium. Over the offseason before the 2012 Major League Baseball season, the Marlins signed big name players to big dollar contracts, demonstrating to the city and county that, with the new stadium, they would be able to compete in a sport with no salary cap.
Midway through the season, however, the Marlins began a fire-sale that continued after the season, and the Marlins are expected to be a miserable team this year.
That has the local populace, and the local politicians, against using public money to fund another stadium.
Yesterday, Patricia Mazzei, of the Miami Herald, reported that the Dolphins had made a " considerably different proposal to miami-dade county mayor carlos gimenez. while no details of the changes were given and dolphins ceo mike dee declined comment gimenez told herald new offer was
"There was a much different proposal that I think was much more palatable," Gimenez said, adding that it's "nowhere close to the original deal."
After the hour-and-a-half meeting between Gimenez and the Dolphins, Gimienez said that the county commission would study the new proposal, and he would return to meet with the Dolphins sometime next week.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins received good news from Tallahassee yesterday. The bills working their way through the Senate and House of Representatives were continue to progress, with a House Committee passing the rebate bill.
The team had already agreed to hold a public referendum on the use of public money for the stadium upgrades, which is now included in the bills in Tallahassee. The Dolphins are hoping to hold that special vote somewhere around May 14.
The Dolphins are hoping to lock up the public funding before the May 22 NFL Owners Meeting. During that gathering, the league will award Super Bowls L and LI. The Dolphins are one of two finalists, joined by the San Francisco 49ers and their stadium being built in Santa Clara, for Super Bowl L, the 50th anniversary game. Whichever of those teams do not get the 2016 championship game will then face the Houston Texans as finalists for the 2017 Super Bowl LI.