Miami Dolphins offer county deal on stadium funds

Miami-Dade County can opt out of referendum if Dolphins fail to get Super Bowls L, LI

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - The Miami Dolphins are offering the county a sort of money-back guarantee when it comes to hosting Super Bowls L or LI.

Rodney Barreto, chairman of the South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee, and Mike Dee, the Dolphins chief executive officer, held a news conference Thursday to explain the deal.

PHOTOS: South Florida's Super Bowl history

The Dolphins are competing against the San Francisco 49ers to host Super Bowl L in 2016. The loser will compete against the Houston Texans to host Super Bowl LI in 2017.

The NFL is expected to announce where Super Bowl L will be played on May 22.

"We have great confidence that South Florida will be awarded a Super Bowl on May 22nd when the owners vote in Boston," said Dee.

Dolphins management as well as other South Florida backers contend that $400 million worth of renovations to Sun Life Stadium will help the area in an effort to lure the Super Bowl for its 50th anniversary. But the renovations will also benefit the University of Miami Hurricanes and could help the state lure international soccer games. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wants to use state and local dollars to help pay for the renovations.

Senate Bill 306 is contingent upon a favorable vote by Miami-Dade voters to also raise the local bed tax levy by one cent. The legislation has already passed through four of seven Florida legislative committees.

In an effort to sway some critics, the stadium bill has been changed to require a local referendum before local hotel bed taxes from Miami-Dade County can be used to help pay for the renovations.

Dee outlined a deal Thursday that would allow the county to opt-out of its referendum, assuming it passes, if the Dolphins failed to receive Super Bowls L or LI.

"If Miami does not get a Super Bowl at that May 22nd meeting, even with a successful referendum, we are going to give the community the option to not move forward," he said.

The committee also announced all Super Bowl-related activities would be held in downtown Miami instead of Miami Beach, where the festivities have been held in the past.

"You are going to look from basically the mouth of the river to north to the Adrienne Arsht Center," said Barreto.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez wrote a letter to Maria Mathews, the director of Florida's Division of Elections, asking whether the county can require the Dolphins to pre-pay the cost of the referendum election.

"I do not believe... that taxpayers of Miami-Dade County should be forced to shoulder the costs (estimated between $3-5 million) of this election brought about by a request from a private party," wrote Gimenez. "I therefore intend to require the Miami Dolphins organization to pay for the costs of such an election."

READ: Letter to Maria Mathews

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