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Miami Gardens Backs Stadium Modernization

Posted Feb 14, 2013

Commissioner Jordan and Mayor Gilbert joined by Dolphins CEO Mike Dee in announcing support for stadium referendum.

Standing within eyesight of Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert and District 1 Commissioner Barbara Jordan were joined by Miami Dolphins CEO Mike Dee this afternoon at a press conference to announce their support for the upcoming stadium referendum and better explain the benefits of the modernization plans in order to help land more big events. It was held in the auditorium at the Betty Ferguson Center.

There is still an auditory buzz left from last month’s BCS National Championship game that was held here, and with the National Football League set to award the 50th Super Bowl to either Miami or San Francisco, there is an even greater sense of urgency. That vote will take place in Boston on May 22nd and whichever city does not get the big game will go up against Houston for the 51st Super Bowl the same day.

The Dolphins on Monday joined Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez in endorsing a public referendum on the 1-cent tax on tourists that would help fund the project, provided that private sources pay the majority of the project cost. There is not a set time for when that vote will take place because the team and the county still have to hammer out some of the details of the proposal and another vote on the bill needs to take place at the state level. Right now, the goal is to educate the public on the proposal and the benefits.

“It’s fitting that we would have our first press event since the referendum was announced right here on our home field in Miami Gardens and District 1,” Dee said. “We are proud to call Miami Gardens and District 1 the home of the Miami Dolphins. “I’ve learned a lot about the City Miami Gardens because I spend more time in Miami Gardens than I spend anywhere in South Florida just by the nature of our job and the way that we work.

“This community has changed, it continues to change and it will change even more in the years to come if we’re able to keep this stadium on track to continue to host these big events and continue to be the home to the Dolphins, Hurricanes and Orange Bowl.”

Both Mayor Gilbert and Commissioner Jordan pointed out how strong the partnership between the team and the city has become over the years and how local businesses continue to benefit from the presence of Sun Life Stadium, especially when blockbuster events like the Super Bowl come to town. There also has been more interest from developers to build in Miami Gardens as they see the growth and the interest generated by the Dolphins and all of the events that take place at Sun Life Stadium.

Commissioner Jordan shared the story of how she asked Dee for help in being able to host the city’s traditional Carnival at the stadium each fall by having him write the league requesting the bye week around that time. The Carnival now has a permanent home and that was just one example of what type of corporate partner the Dolphins have been. She also clarified the type of tax dollars being sought and how the project will primarily be funded by tourists, and not Miami-Dade residents.

“We will be asking and voting on whether to increase the bed tax that tourists pay when they come here to vacation in Miami-Dade County,” Jordan said. “That tourist tax is exclusively used for places like arenas and stadiums, so we’re not using local tax dollars to pay for it and I think we have to get that message across.”

Mayor Gilbert cited the BCS game as another example of how the entire county reaped the rewards of people staying in hotels all the way out to South Beach and eating at restaurants on Brickell as well in the Miami Gardens area. In turn, these types of events helped grow business and the stadium modernization will create jobs and peak interest in future development like hotels and other businesses.

At the same time, the Mayor used this opportunity to better define the identity of his city and prove how far it has come from where it once was. The profile is improving overall.

“This is not a poor city. We’re a working class city and people in Miami Gardens get up everyday and they go to work,” Mayor Gilbert said. “They come home and they want to enjoy the amenities that people in other communities have. … This is money that can be spent uniquely on sports facilities and we can develop this area around the stadium that will benefit the entire community.”

Again, one look at the recent BCS game and the impact of Super Bowl XLIV three years ago speaks volumes about how far reaching the economic impact really is.

“The ripple effect of what’s felt in the community when these events take place here throughout the county and not just on Miami Beach or downtown is profound,” Dee said. “We talked about Publix. Their business year over year was up that same week (of BCS) dramatically over preceding years. So I think rather than us do the talking it’s great that residents of the County recognize that and are energized by what they see.”

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