MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - A person familiar with the Miami Dolphins' plan seeking tax money for an upgrade of their stadium says the team has agreed to a referendum on the proposal.
A news conference with County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Dolphins chief executive officer Mike Dee to announce the vote is expected to be held Monday morning.
The Dolphins believe passage by Miami-Dade County voters would help the chance of the plan's approval by the Florida Legislature. Team owner Stephen Ross earlier resisted holding a referendum on the issue, saying there wasn't time for a vote before legislators would need to act. Last week, lawmakers passed up on the issue for the upcoming legislative session.
Supporters of the Dolphins' plan say the $400 million proposed renovations are necessary to compete with other cities for future big-ticket games.
Local 10's Michael Putney interviewed Dee Sunday on "This Week in South Florida."
"Is this welfare for billionaires?" Putney said.
"That's a populist argument," Dee said.
Critics of the Dolphins' plan compare it to the controversial Marls Park deal, which Forbes called a disaster.
"The Marlins stadium is looking like the worst shellacking taxpayers have even gotten from a baseball stadium," wrote Mike Ozanian with Forbes.com.
The terms of the Sun Life deal, even the public-private funding split, might be different. But the memory of how the Marlins steamrolled county leaders is fresh in the minds of the same people the Dolphins are now trying to woo.
"One thing we can't do is rewrite history," Dee told Putney. "We weren't a part of that discussion, negotiation. I think the good news for the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County, the people that were at the table representing the county aren't a part of our discussion. I believe, at the end of the day, we'll be able to demonstrate that the return on the investment for the public sector is worthy of an investment as part of a public-private partnership."
The team hopes to have the issue on a referendum by May 22, around the time when the NFL will announce what city will host the 2016 Super Bowl, for which Miami is in the running. The make-over could happen in just a few years, if voters approve to pay for part of it.
The stadium also serves as the home field for the University of Miami Hurricanes football team. It was also the site of the most recent BCS Championship Game and the 2010 Super Bowl XLIV between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts.
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