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Ross, Dolphins Endorse Public Referendum For Stadium Modernization

Posted Feb 11, 2013

Voters would get to help Miami’s chances of landing Super Bowl L.

Based on the positive feedback being generated and the recent votes both in Miami-Dade County and at the state level the Miami Dolphins and owner Steve Ross are prepared to let the voters weigh in on the modernization plan for Sun Life Stadium.

Dolphins CEO Mike Dee and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez held a joint press conference this morning at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami. Dee confirmed the organization’s endorsement of a public referendum should the county and the Dolphins come to an agreement that could be put to a vote.

“We’ve been out in the community and have received a lot of positive feedback based on the financial commitment we’re willing to make,”  Dee told Dolphins.com. “With Super Bowl 50, BCS Championships and international soccer on the line, we believe that this will be a winning proposition for the community in terms of the economic impact generated by blockbuster events.  As you can see, Steve Ross has been forthright and transparent thus far, and we intend to continue to conduct our business that way.  We are confident that the voters of Miami-Dade will make the right decision for the future of our community.”

Last week up in Tallahassee, the Senate’s Commerce and Tourism Committee voted unanimously by an 11-0 count to move forward the bill approving a 1 cent hotel tax increase and a $3 million tax rebate on goods and services sold through the legislature. Next up for the bill in the Senate is the Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax, with no date set for the hearing.

The Dolphins also held a town hall meeting with the public to field more questions and better explain the entire proposal in which Ross pledged to privately-fund the majority of the construction cost to modernize Sun Life Stadium and not increase taxes on Miami-Dade residents. The modernization will bolster Miami-Dade’s chances of landing the 50th Super Bowl in 2016.

“We support the people having a voice and we’re confident that it will go our way and we believe that it’s the right thing to do,” Dee said. “There will be no new taxes for Miami-Dade County residents and there is a pledge by Steve Ross and the Dolphins to fund the majority of the costs with private funding. These are messages that clearly resonate and Super Bowl L alone could bring in excess of $400 million of economic impact to this community.

“Add in the corresponding jobs that would come from that and subsequent Super Bowls and international soccer events and college championships as well as other big events and we believe this referendum is sensible and necessary. We want to make sure that everybody understands the economic development and activity that’s on the line. There is a quantifiable return that we’re offering for Miami-Dade County in the discussions we’re going to have.”

During today’s press conference, Mayor Gimenez emphasized that what is being proposed here will be very different than any other deal done by the County.

“These aren’t the Marlins,” said Gimenez, who was a vocal opponent to the Marlins’ stadium deal. “This is a different franchise with a long, storied history here in Miami-Dade County. So what they’re asking for is somewhat different. They have to prove to me that there is a public purpose to doing the renovations at the stadium and that not only are we going to be able to attract these games and these events but that we’re actually going to be able to land them.”

Miami is going up against San Francisco and the new stadium being built in Santa Clara for the right to host Super Bowl L, which also falls on the 50th anniversary of the Dolphins. Whichever team does not land that historic Super Bowl will immediately compete with Houston for the right to host Super Bowl LI and that also will be voted on up in Boston on May 22nd.

Back in the beginning of January when Ross and the Dolphins unveiled their modernization plans they didn’t think there would be enough time to hold a public referendum with the Super Bowl vote by the owners coming up so quickly. Once the Mayor clarified how this vote could take place before the Boston meetings the Dolphins immediately embraced it and moved forward with telling their story to the public on how this will benefit everyone.

Before anything goes in front of the voters the two sides have to land on the same page when it comes to the overall deal and Mayor Gimenez is simply proposing a binding public referendum. That will give the residents of Miami-Dade County the final say in a public election.

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