Miami Gardens officials support Sun Life Stadium upgrades

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

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Officials with the Miami Dolphins met with elected leaders in Miami Gardens Thursday about the team's modernization plan for Sun Life Stadium.

"(If) we want to be a world-class community, we actually have to have world-class venues," said Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert.

Gilbert and county commissioners voiced their support for using tourist tax money to pay for part of the renovations at the stadium.

"We will be asking and voting on whether to increase the bed tax that tourists pay when they come here to vacation in Miami-Dade County," said Miami Gardens city commissioner Barbara Jordan. "Those tourists tax are exclusively used for places like arenas and stadiums."

Hiking the bed tax from 6 to 7 percent, which needs Florida legislative approval, would raise about $10 million a year. Another $3 million would come from a sales tax rebate for everything sold at the stadium.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said he'll pay more than half the total cost of $400 million.

"I think there were 11 projects two years ago. Today, there are 22 projects that we've identified that need to be addressed in order for this facility to serve the community over the 25-year timeframe that we've proposed," said Mike Dee, the chief executive officer of the Dolphins.

When Miami-Dade County voters were asked in Oct. 2012 by The Miami Herald whether tax dollars should be spent on a roof at Sun Life Stadium, 84 percent voted no.

"If we weren't confident we couldn't achieve success, we wouldn't have agreed to the referendum," said Dee.

The referendum could be held in about 12 weeks. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the Dolphins still must start negotiations.

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