Miami-Dade Commission calls special meeting over Sun Life Stadium deal
Commissioners want to set May 14 date for local referendum
The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners called a special meeting regarding the renovations at Sun Life Stadium.
Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa, commissioners Barbara Jordan, Jean Monestime, Sally Heyman, Xavier Suarez, Juan Zapata, and Jose "Pepe" Diaz signed the memorandum calling the Wednesday meeting.
Commissioners want to schedule a local referendum on May 14 so voters can decide whether to increase the hotel bed tax in mainland Miami-Dade by one percent. Commissioners must also conditionally approve the agreement Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez reached with the Miami Dolphins late Monday.
"The bottom line is do we want the registered voters of Miami-Dade County to make a decision on this issue or not," said Sosa.
"It's about giving the voters a chance to vote," said Heyman. "I'm feeling good because I have confidence in my mayor. I like what he's brought to the table."
The deal, a 30-year economic development grant, includes a non-relocation agreement. The Dolphins could pay a minimum $120 million repayment penalty if certain conditions, including the number of Super Bowls and BCS Championship games it lands, aren't met.
"I love that there's a guarantee that says we're going to deliver," added Heyman.
"I do understand the value of bringing Super Bowls and what not, but I guess the devil's in the details," said Commissioner Esteban Bovo. "We're looking at a loan that it's value 30 years from now may not be the dollar amount that we're fronting to or participating in these renovations."
Bovo said residents in his district don't support helping pay for the renovations.
"Residents in my area don't see the value of it. They're never going to go to a Super Bowl," he said.
"I think the people will hopefully look at the details instead of saying yes [or] no," said Heyman.
The Dolphins have offered to pay the county and the state back the money it receives from a sales tax rebate of $3 million a year for 30 years. The team will also pay for the local referendum.
The state legislature is considering a bill that would authorize the rebate and also raise the hotel bed tax. Under the Senate version of the bill, the Dolphins would have to compete for that money with other professional sports franchises in the state.
"I haven't seen the bill yet," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott. "As you know, I put out five principles of what would have to be in a bill for me to sign it, and it was basically tied to: what would the owner invest? Will there be a local referendum if there's going to be a tax? Is there a good return on investment for the taxpayers? Will the team commit to stay for the period of time? So that's basically what I said my criteria would be, so when the bill gets finished, I'll review it and make a decision."
The Dolphins say that their 25-year-old stadium needs at least $350 million in improvements to remain competitive with newer stadiums around the NFL. In its deal with the county, the team will pay 70 percent of the cost.
The Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers, who will move into a new stadium next year, are vying for Super Bowl L in 2016. The loser will compete against the Houston Texans to host Super Bowl LI in 2017.
NFL team owners will announce the locations of Super Bowls L and LI on May 22 in Boston.