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MIAMI – Nearly five hours of debate yielded a favorable vote for the Miami Dolphins by the Miami-Dade County Commission on the private/public partnership brokered by the team and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
There were 11 of the 13 districts represented inside the County Commission Chamber and after some amendments to the proposal were hammered out and read onto the record, the partnership was approved by a vote of 8-3. A second resolution to set a public referendum for May 14th so that the residents of Miami-Dade County can get their voice heard also passed, this one by a 9-2 vote.
“I thought the process today was extremely constructive,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said. “I think that this is a Commission that is very focused on the details, as well they should be. They charged the Mayor with coming to them back in January with a partnership that made sense for this community and we fully expected the type of dialogue and the attention to detail that existed today.
“I think at the end of the day their votes spoke loudly that this is truly a partnership that’s different, that’s unique, that meets the commitments that we made in our pledge back in January. It exceeds, in fact, most of those commitments that we made in our pledge. So we’re gratified with the result and salute the type of dialogue and attention to detail that took place.”
A key component to the successful vote was the Dolphins’ commitment to repay the net proceeds of the County and State contribution, something that is unprecedented as far as sports facility partnerships are concerned.
Now the information will immediately be disseminated to the voters through the County Commission’s website, television station and mailings, as well as through traditional media. Legislators in Tallahassee still need to approve the bill authorizing the county to implement the additional 1 percent tourism tax and the $3 million per year tax rebate on goods and services sold at Sun Life Stadium.
Hall-of-Fame center Dwight Stephenson was among those in the audience showing support and the team got a sound endorsement from Mayor Gimenez and Commissioner Barbara Jordan, the partnership’s primary sponsor on the board. The Commission also heard from Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Rodney Barreto and the head of the Greater Miami Visitors and Convention Bureau, Bill Talbert, who also brought with him some representatives of the hotel industry.
In the end, the long hours, days and weeks of negotiations between Gimenez and the Dolphins seems to have paid dividends. The two sides did all of the dirty work in terms of making the necessary concessions in order to come up with what has been described as an unprecedented partnership, and both feel that what will be presented to the voters is fair and will prove beneficial to all parties.
“This is a two-way street,” Gimenez said. “We didn’t get everything we wanted and the Dolphins didn’t get everything they wanted, and so in a sense that’s probably how you would look at a good negotiation. It’s just not one way or the other. The Dolphins had certain things that they required really in order for them to even consider some of the things that we were doing and so we had to of course verify that they actually needed those things and then we had to come to some sort of a mutual agreement.”
And that agreement now rests in the hands of the voters.
“We’ve been on the street and out there talking to community groups and engaging with cities and elected officials, but more importantly engaging with residents,” said Dee when asked about the challenge that lies ahead. “Our sense is that when the facts are known, when the economic development that emanates from this partnership is clear, that we don’t bat a thousand but we bat a pretty high average on having people be supportive about what’s going to be in front of them on May 14th.
“This is about jobs, it’s about job growth, it’s about all these events that will come here over time and we believe our facility is a key economic driver for the county. We think at the end of the day the facts will prevail and we have great confidence in the Miami-Dade voters that they’ll make the right decision.”