Vote for stadium improvement lapses
By Lisa Overing
After the Florida House of Representatives let the vote lapse to pass a hotel tax for nearly $400 million in subsidies for improvements to privately-owned Sun Life Stadium, the future of Miami hosting more Super Bowls seems uncertain, as does possibly the long-term future of the Miami Dolphins, as well.
The Florida Legislature did not vote on the plan, which also called for Miami-Dade County paying for about one-third of the project. In spite of absentee ballots having being cast, the referendum on Dolphins Stadium plan was not considered on May 14.
The Dolphins sought $3 million a year from the state and an increase in county hotel taxes from six to seven percent to keep their stadium and South Florida a contender for future Super Bowls, including the game for 2016, of which Miami and San Francisco were considered leading contenders.
While some cite the very principle of tax money being applied for upgrades to a privately-owned facility, regardless of its benefit to the city and region, as inappropriate, others are wary of the legacy of problems from the new Miami Marlins Stadium.
While she still hadn‚Äôt formed an opinion prior to Tallahassee not even voting on the proposal and subsequently taking it off the ballot, Aventura resident Brenda Vitucci was leaning no toward public dollars for the expansion because of the added sales tax on hotels.
‚ÄúI think the negative outweighs the positive,‚Äù says Vitucci, ‚Äúespecially with the track record of our Miami politicians. We [Miami] are fighting so many other cities for tourist dollars, we could get even less because of this. Tourist planning trips who check the hotel rates prior to vacation will find other Florida cities cheaper. That will affect the entire tourist industry negatively here...restaurants, retail and recreation. Florida will also have a $90 million dollar revenue shortfall in the budget because of special exemptions they want to give the Dolphins.‚Äù
Potential revenue shortfalls typically mean higher sales or property tax for everyone, not just visiting tourists looking to save every dollar in an already expensive market.
‚Ä®The public subsidization for improvements to a privately owned stadium is a gripe for many who feel that Dolphin Stadium should pay its own way and raise its own capital for modernization, just as any private business venture is expected to do.
Although the city did not take a formal position on the vote, Aventura Mayor Susan Gottlieb was opposed to the expenditure of tourist tax dollars on the mainland for funding of a privately-owned stadium.
I was most against the $3 million a year sales tax rebate that could have been used for so many needs in our community, says Mayor Gottlieb. I firmly believe that had the vote gone forward, the residents of Miami-Dade County would have rejected the proposal. Remember Joe Robbie, who built the stadium with private funds? Hopefully, Mr. Ross and his partners will do the same!