Gov. Rick Scott signs bill to help pro sports teams build, upgrade stadiums

New law would help pay for Miami soccer stadium

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Professional sports organizations looking to build new stadiums or upgrade current ones will get taxpayer help under a bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott on Friday signed the bill that will help pay for proposed projects ranging from a professional soccer stadium in Miami to the renovation of Daytona International Speedway.

The new law (HB 7095) would establish a pool of $13 million in taxpayer-supported subsidies that could be spent each year, with no team receiving more than $3 million a year. The projects must cost a minimum of $100 million to qualify for the help.

Of course, it doesn't solve the issue of where David Beckham and his investors would build a new stadium for the Major League Soccer franchise he is bringing to Miami.

After suggesting a deep-water boat slip that is part of Museum Park in downtown Miami as an alternative location to the proposed PortMiami site, city officials said earlier this month withdrew that offer. Instead, they mentioned an area near Marlins Park as a possible alternative, although Beckham's group prefers a downtown venue.

The political wrangling has left the future of professional soccer in South Florida in limbo.

Miami Beckham United said it "will now pause and weigh alternatives."

The Department of Economic Opportunity would be responsible for screening and certifying applicants for state funding. Applicants would be required to meet a certain set of criteria, including having a minimum 10-year commitment from a new professional franchise or 20 years for a retained franchise; having projections demonstrating a paid annual attendance of more than 300,000; independent analysis demonstrating an annual sales tax generated by the use of the franchise's facility would be at least $2 million; and committing more than half of the costs related to the improvement or construction of the facility.

Beckham has said he won't use any public money to build a stadium, but he is seeking tax breaks like those afforded by other professional franchises.

Other stipulations would require Major League Baseball to change its policy on Cuban players if the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays want a share of the state money set aside for stadiums.

The new law takes effect July 1.

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