The Miami Dolphins' bid for public funding for stadium renovations gained its second favorable vote in two days from state lawmakers Wednesday. The endorsements from key committees in the state Senate and House were vital steps. But the most important vote, the proposed public referendum in Miami-Dade County, has yet to be set, and crunch time is approaching in the race to ensure the stadium project before the NFL awards Super Bowls L and LI. "We look forward to working with Mayor [Carlos] Gimenez and the [Miami-Dade] Commission to finalize our agreement and schedule the referendum to vote on this unprecedented public-private partnership," Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said in a statement after the House Economic Affairs Committee approved the funding bill by a 10-7 vote. Those negotiations with Miami-Dade need to be completed quickly to get the stadium issue on the ballot May 14, coinciding with some municipal elections. A 30-day legal notification is required before holding the referendum. Although the stadium vote could be held apart from the scheduled election, timing is tight with NFL owners due to award the 2016 and 2017 Super Bowls on May 22. Dee hailed the positive vote by the House committee a day after the Senate Rules Committee gave unanimous approval to the companion bill as building momentum. But the bills only began to advance after the Dolphins agreed to make them contingent on winning the public referendum and adding other concessions. The team has also offered to pay for staging the special referendum, estimated at $3 million-$5 million. The state still must rule on the legality of that, another hurdle to scheduling the election. The Dolphins are seeking a $3 million-a-year state sales tax rebate for 30 years as well as a 1 percent increase in the hotel tax for mainland Miami-Dade to help pay for a $389 million makeover of Sun Life Stadium. In addition to providing more than half the cost, the Dolphins are offering to repay approximately $167 million ($120 million to Miami-Dade, $47 million to the state) by 2043, making the public subsidy essentially an interest-free loan. They would also pay for 100 percent of any cost overruns during construction, Dee said.
Dolphins' bill progresses, but major obstacles remain with referendum not yet set
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Apr 4