Miami Dolphins pay $4.8M for referendum

Voters to decide Sun Life Stadium deal May 14

MIAMI - Miami Dolphins chief executive officer Mike Dee presented a $4,784,337 check to Miami-Dade County Friday to pay for the May 14th referendum for the renovations at Sun Life Stadium.

"Well, this is it," said Dee. "I don't think I've ever carried a check this large."

Voters will decide whether to increase the hotel bed tax in mainland Miami-Dade by one percent to help fund renovations at the stadium. The commission voted Wednesday to put it on a ballot.

"We're excited about the opportunity to move forward with the referendum," said Dee. "This is a fundamental part of this process and one that we embrace and one that we're happy to make sure the taxpayers don't pay for."

The 30-year economic development grant struck between Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the Dolphins includes a non-relocation agreement.

The Dolphins have also 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 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.

"If by May 3rd or whenever the state legislature closes, if they don't pass the bill, there is no refund to the Dolphins," said Gimenez. "So the million and a half, close to $2 million that we save by not having an election stays in the coffers of Miami-Dade County."

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.

The deadline for those who want to register to vote in the referendum is Monday.

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