Here we go again! Simply substitute Stephen Ross, who Forbes Magazine reports is worth $4.4 billion, for Jeffrey Loria and we may call it “Marlins II.”
Ross and the Dolphins want to “pig out” at the public trough, just like their cousins, the Marlins. And, as usual, a threat is involved. This time, the object is to publicly fund renovations of a privately owned stadium that originally was named after Joe Robbie, who built it with his own money, now called Sun Life Stadium. And this time the threat is not that the Dolphins will leave but that the NFL will not award Miami future Super Bowls because at one of them their fans and NFL partners got rained on a little.
Of course, next year the Super Bowl will be held in the open air New Jersey Meadowlands at the beginning of February. The questions are: will the very same politicians on the Miami-Dade County Commission who voted for the $2.4 billion Marlins fiasco (and, incredibly, were re-elected) grant Ross and the Dolphins $200 million of tourist taxes? Will the state fork over an additional $3 million of annual sales tax rebates for decades to come? (The Dolphins already get $2 million in annual sales tax rebates for renovations involving the Marlins when they played at the stadium, but obviously that’s not enough for them!)
Talk about greed and corporate welfare.
The Dolphins propose that the hotel/tourist tax be increased by 17 percent to pay for this give-away. More odorous legislation is hard to imagine. Public polls show that 84 percent of the public does not want this type of wasteful public spending for wealthy, privately owned sports teams.
Ross and the sponsors of these proposed obscenely obnoxious bills should be ashamed of themselves, as should any elected official who even considers voting to give taxpayer money to Ross, one of the richest men in the country.
In the midst of a still struggling economy and hard-pressed governmental budgets, giving public tax money and rebates to a professional football team owner and partner in the NFL (hugely profitable businesses) without a public referendum, without the public getting a dime of the resulting hundreds of millions of dollars of additional revenue it will generate, simply because they believe the stadium does not have sufficient rain protection for Super Bowl attendees, is outrageous. Asking for it is the epitome of chutzpah!
Of course, we will hear that this expenditure will have a positive economic impact and increase tourism — arguments that independent studies clearly have concluded are nonsense.
Super Bowls are played in February, the height of the Miami and Miami Beach tourist season (and Boat Show) and are awarded to many different cities. Contrast this to Art Basel, the most successful area event that annually brings to Miami/Miami Beach hundreds of millions of tourist dollars, without one dime of public expenditure and which could be adversely affected by this hotel tax increase.
Stadium renovation will create some temporary construction jobs, but stadium roof companies have their own in-house employees who are not citizens of this county. Just ask the desperate job-seeking residents who applied and were rejected for such jobs when the Marlins Stadium was built notwithstanding the Marlins’ promises.
The unvarnished truth is this Dolphins/NFL demand is being made because Miami-Dade County government foolishly (and, in my opinion, stupidly) caved in to the Marlins and now the Dolphins believe they, too, are “entitled” to receive tourist taxes and a whopping increase of sales taxes rebates.
After all, didn’t they give huge campaign contributions to re-elect the commissioners who voted for the Marlins Stadium? Why shouldn’t they now expect these same officials to ignore (again) the clear wishes of the public and reward them for their re-election assistance?
The contagious disease — granting public tax moneys to privately owned professional sports teams — has not been and won’t be cured unless and until the voters stop re-electing people who vote for these give-aways.
People: Contrary to their cheers, they are not “your Miami Dolphins,” and not “your Miami Marlins.” They are not publicly owned.
Sure, “hometown” sports teams may warrant your fan and admission ticket support — but not one cent of your tax money. Your local and state governments have much better uses for that.
Steve, why don’t you just write the check? You can well afford it.
Norman Braman is a civic activist and a businessman who owns South Florida car dealerships.