Miami-Dade commissioners hold meeting over Sun Life Stadium deal

Commissioners want to set May 14 date for local referendum

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MIAMI - The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners held a special meeting Wednesday regarding the renovations at Sun Life Stadium.

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.

READ: Local referendum | Stadium modification agreement |

Seven commissioners signed the memorandum calling the meeting. It began at noon.

"The only thing that I have on my mind today is something that is very important to me -- allow the community to take part in the decision," said Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa. "I am not endorsing one compromise or another. The only thing that I support is the public to make that decision."

"I think that the Marlins -- the Dolphins," said Commissioner Barbara Jordan, "Freudian slip, but the Dolphins deserve their day."

"I like the idea that their success is the state of Florida's also," said Commissioner Sally Heyman. "I believe it's going to pass because the strongest emphasis on this is let the voters have a say."

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 aren't met, including the number of Super Bowls and BCS Championship they land.

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.

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