County votes to support stadium upgrades

Miami Dolphins asking for public money to pay for modernization of Sun Life Stadium

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MIAMI - The Miami-Dade County Commission passed a resolution Wednesday that supports spending millions of tax dollars on the Miami Dolphins' modernization plan for Sun Life Stadium.

Commissioners voted 9-4 to pass the resolution. But hanging over the discussion was the Miami Marlins' stadium deal, one many people living in the county believe was too beneficial for the team.

"We're talking about the Dolphins here, a different kind of fish," said commissioner Barbara Jordan.

"But there's been such a bad taste left in the mouths of our residents that they want to make sure we never repeat what happened and what occurred with the Marlins," said commissioner Lynda Bell.

The Marlins Park deal soured residents on public subsidies, as Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria paid about 20 percent of the cost for the stadium.

"In no way, shape, or form would this mayor ever bring to you a deal with financing as atrocious as we had with the Marlins stadium," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

When Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announced the modernization, he said he would pay half of the $400 million needed. Automotive dealer Norman Braman, who fought the Marlins deal, said Ross should pay the entire cost.

Some of the money would come from raising the bed taxes in Miami-Dade County from 6 to 7 percent and a $3 million sales tax rebate from the state.

"No tax increase for Miami-Dade residents. Any request for public investment will not include a request for taxes on residents of Miami-Dade County," said Dolphins CEO Mike Dee.

The Dolphins say the upgrades, including a partial roof and better video screens, are necessary to make Sun Life Stadium competitive with newer stadiums and to win Super Bowl 50, which will be announced in May.

"Great cities have great facilities, and they have facilities for all kinds of people," said Gimenez.

"Guys, the Dade delegation is not onboard with this. The Dade delegation doesn't care what we do with this item," said commissioner Esteban Bovo, referring to those in the Legislature.

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