Dolphins drop tax relief plan for stadium upgrades; Looking for payments for events

Mike Ehrmann

The Miami Dolphins appear set to drop their request for tax relief from Miami-Dade County in return for private funds being used to upgrade Sun Life Stadium. Instead, the team will ask the county to make payments for major sporting events attracted to the site.

The quest to upgrade Sun Life Stadium added anothed chapter today, with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez telling the Miami Herald's Douglas Hanks and Adam Beasley that the Miami Dolphins are set to back off their request for tax relief from the county in exchange for private funds to be used for the renovations.  The Dolphins had been asking that the stadium be exempted from the $4 million a year property tax it currently pays, the only professional sports stadium in Florida to be required to make those payments.

It appears the Dolphins are now going to ask the county that they make a payment to the team any time the stadium attracts a major sporting event to the site.  The amount of that payment is not disclosed, but would be required if the stadium were to host events like the Super Bowl, the college football National Championship or playoff games, and World Cup soccer matches. 

Dolphins owners Stephen Ross also owns the stadium.  He previously has offered to turn over ownership of the site to the county, in exchange for the property tax relief.

"It’s kind of similar to what we do when we try to bring companies" to Miami-Dade, Gimenez told the paper referencing the new plan. "You perform, you get something."

Gimenz continued to explain that the money would come from the county hotel tax - the "bed tax" that the Dolphins previously asked the state to increase to pay for a portion of the renovations - and is the same money being used to subsidize the Miami Heat and make payments on Marlins Park.

The NFL has all-but-eliminated Miami from receiving another Super Bowl without renovations to Sun Life Stadium, including high definition lighting and a cover over the seating areas.  The cost for the upgrades is expected to be $300-400 million.  The team tried last year, when they were finalists for the 2016 and 2017 Super Bowls; Santa Clara, California won the 2016 game, the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, and Houston, Texas claimed the 2017 championship. 

The Dolphins are expected to discuss the new proposal during the NFL owners meeting starting today.

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