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County Commission Bolsters Sun Life Stadium Renovation Plans

Posted Jan 23, 2013

Vote to have state pass subsidies bill lands in Dolphins’ favor.

Only two more Super Bowls remain before the highly anticipated 50th version of the game will be played, and last week Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross got an early victory in his attempt to bring Super Bowl L back to South Florida.

Miami-Dade County commissioners, by a 9-4 vote, chose to back a plan pushing for lawmakers up in Tallahassee to pass a bill that would open up new state and local monies to help kick start major renovations to Sun Life Stadium. Two weeks ago, Ross unveiled initial blueprints for upgrades and additions to the Dolphins’ home stadium that would cost $400 million and pledged to pay a little more than half of the cost.

Should this bill make it through the state legislature, the other $199 million would come from a combination of a $3 million-a-year subsidy from the state and an increase in Miami-Dade’s mainland hotel tax to 7 percent from its current 6 percent. The subsidy is similar to the $2 million one the facility was rewarded in the 1990s to cover the conversion to a football/baseball facility when the Florida Marlins became tenants.

“I think it's extremely important,” said Dolphins CEO Mike Dee of the vote. “It sends the message to our lawmakers that Miami-Dade County wants to control our own destiny. It is just the first step. But I think what it does is underscore that there is a recognition what these events mean to the economy of this region.”

Dee stood in front of the commission and presented in painstaking detail the financial and structural breakdown of the aggressive project. With the Marlins occupying their own new ballpark in Miami, that has opened the door to move the lower level seats at Sun Life Stadium closer to the field and expand the capacity in that level in the process.

The project also calls for an open-air canopy to be built over the stadium that would keep the fans dry and cool while the players would still be exposed to the elements. The large video boards would be revamped to where there are four located in each corner as opposed to two located in each end zone and the stadium lighting would be improved to meet NFL standards for high-definition television broadcasts.

South Florida is a finalist along with San Francisco to be awarded Super Bowl L, to be played in February of 2016. That also happens to be the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Dolphins and this area has hosted more Super Bowls than any other city. The vote will take place on May 22nd in Boston and if Ross, Dee and the South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee can bring these stadium renovations to the table, that could put the area back in the driver’s seat.

“We’re going to get a Super Bowl every five years if we have a stadium that is competitive,” Dee said on a radio appearance. “I think that is a major fundamental difference (between what happened with the Marlins’ ballpark) in why the need to invest in this facility by the community is especially important.”
Game Pass: Miami Dolphins