Braynon said the Marlins deal hurts the Dolphins’ chances, even among lawmakers whose districts are far from the baseball team’s new, publicly owned field built on the site of the old Orange Bowl in Little Havana. “Even people up here think about the Marlins stadium,” he said from Tallahassee. “That’s the biggest hurdle, in my opinion.”
The Dolphins have launched miamifirst.com, a website, and @miamifirst, a Twitter account, to promote the stadium plan. The team continues rolling out endorsements from some of Miami-Dade’s largest hotels, including a thumbs-up from Donald Trump, the new owner of the Doral golf resort.
“At Trump National, we understand the importance of world-class events as economic drivers. Steve Ross’ commitment to modernize Sun Life Stadium — while covering most of the construction costs — is the right thing for Miami-Dade,” Trump said in a statement released by the team.
And while auto magnate Norman Braman has vowed to fight the Dolphins deal, other crusaders against the Marlins deal have mostly held their fire. Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, who voted against the Marlins plan as a city commissioner, said he endorsed spending hotel taxes on the Dolphins’ stadium.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who rode anti-Marlins sentiment into County Hall after the recall ouster of his predecessor, Carlos Alvarez, who backed the baseball plan, demurred. A Gimenez spokeswoman said Tuesday that he wants to see more details.
“Unlike the Marlins stadium deal, any proposal to renovate Sun Life Stadium must serve a public purpose and protect the interests of our residents and taxpayers,” Gimenez said in a statement.
Ross and his allies contributed heavily to incumbents in the recent County Commission elections, facing off against challengers funded by Braman, also a billionaire.
Interviews with commissioners suggest Ross will at least get a hearing should the Legislature grant Miami-Dade the authority to raise hotel taxes beyond the 6 percent statewide cap.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman, one of four “no” votes for the 2009 Marlins deal, said she was willing to consider the Dolphins’ proposal.
“I’m open-minded. I assume it would make us competitive to get bowl games, and the Super Bowl,” she said. “It’s something I’m willing to take a look at.”
Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa, who voted for the Marlins deal, said Ross’ money and the use of hotel taxes would be key to her support.
“If they give more than 50 percent, I’m willing to listen. As long as we don’t use one penny of property tax money,” she said.
Xavier Suarez, who joined the commission in 2011, supports the Dolphins’ effort but wants to consider a referendum — a step the team opposes.
Using hotel taxes is “totally different from the idea of taxing property owners,” he said. But “it has to be approved by the people.”
Miami Herald Staff Writer Chuck Rabin contributed to this report.