Sun Life Stadium Renovation
2:15 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Miami-Dade Voters May Stand Between Dolphins And Public Funds

Miami-Dade voters could decide if public funds are used to renovate Sun Life Stadium. The county mayor and the CEO of the  Miami Dolphins held a joint news conference Monday to discuss the proposal. 

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez told reporters negotiations between the county and the Dolphins haven't even started yet.

He says a deal must be in place before any referendum would be put before the voters.

"If you don't get the support of the voters, you don't get the deal, period," said Gimenez. "It's a binding referendum. It's not a straw ballot."

He stressed that this agreement would be nothing like the arrangement with the Miami Marlins, which he opposed.

"That was a bad deal, and a lot of things were kept in the dark," said Gimenez. "I don't deal that way, and I'm sure the Dolphins don't deal that way also."

He says to support the agreement he'd have to see quantifiable benefits for the public, and that could include the NFL awarding a Super Bowl to the stadium.

Miami Dolphins CEO Mike Dee (at the podium) addresses reporters Monday.
Credit Marva Hinton / WLRN

The Dolphins have proposed using private funds to cover just over half of the $400 million renovations. The rest would be paid for through an increased hotel tax for most of Miami Dade and a subsidy on sales tax for items purchased at the stadium.

Dolphins CEO Mike Dee says he's confident the public will support the deal because it would provide, "no new taxes for Miami-Dade County residents."

He also points to team owner, Stephen Ross, agreeing to put up more than half of the funding as a strong selling point, but Gimenez says he'd like to see Ross contribute a larger percentage.

"He started at 51," said Gimenez. "That's great. I don't believe we're going to end up at 51 percent, but again, we haven't started negotiations. I know who my bosses are. I know what side of the table I'm on. I'm on the side of the residents of Miami-Dade County."

Both the Dolphins and the county are facing a bit of a time crunch.

Gimenez says some sort of agreement would have to be in place by mid March in order for a referendum to take place before the NFL decides on Super Bowl 50. The league will announce the location of that game in late May.