The Miami Dolphins ramped up their public campaign for a tax-funded stadium renovation this week, buying full-page ads against their top critic and trying to distance the plan from the unpopular Marlins deal.
The team bought an ad in Tuesday’s Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald knocking auto magnate Norman Braman’s criticism of the Sun Life Stadium deal, which would have Florida and Miami-Dade split the costs with owner Stephen Ross for a $400 million renovation. The Dolphins would pay at least $201 million, with taxpayers using state funds and a higher Miami-Dade hotel tax to pay $199 million.
In a fact sheet sent to media Tuesday morning, the Dolphins listed ways their deal differs from the 2009 Marlins deal. First: Ross, a billionaire real estate developer, would use private dollars to fund at least 51 percent of the Sun Life effort, compared to less than 25 percent from Marlins owner Jeff Loria. Second, Sun Life helps the economy more than the Marlins park does.
“Just because the Marlins did a bad deal doesn’t mean we should oppose a good deal where at least a majority of the cost is paid from private sources and more than 4,000 local jobs are created during construction alone,” the fact sheet states. And while the Dolphins’ Miami Gardens stadium has hosted two Super Bowls since 2007 and is in the running for the 2016 game, “Marlins Stadium does not generate the ability to attract world-class sports events -- other than a World Series from time to time depending on the success of the team.”
NFL teams play eight home games a year if they don’t make the playoffs, while baseball teams have 81.
Miami and Miami-Dade built the Marlins a $640 million stadium at the site of the Dolphins’ old home at the Orange Bowl in Little Havana. The Marlins contributed about $120 million and agreed to pay between $2.5 million and $4.9 million a year for 35 years to pay back $35 million of debt the county borrowed for the stadium. As a publicly owned stadium, the Marlins ballpark pays no property taxes. Most of the public money came from Miami-Dade hotel taxes, along with $50 million of debt tied to the county’s general fund.
Sun Life is privately owned and pays $3 million a year in property taxes to Miami-Dade. It currently receives $2 million a year from Florida’ s stadium program, a subsidy tied to converting the football venue to baseball in the 1990s when the Marlins played there. The Dolphins also paid for a second full-page ad with quotes from leading hoteliers in Miami-Dade endorsing the stadium plan. Among them: Donald Trump, whose company recently purchased the Doral golf resort. “Steve Ross’ commitment to modernize Sun Life Stadium -- while covering most of the construction costs -- is the right thing for Miami-Dade,’’ the ad quotes Trump as saying.
Also on Tuesday, Ross and team CEO Mike Dee sent a letter to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and county commissioners requesting negotiations over the stadium deal. The letter said the deal Ross unveiled last week is a “baseline for debate” and asked for talks. The letter also urged the commission to adopt a resolution proposed by Commissioner Barbara Jordan endorsing the state bill that would allow taxes for Sun Life. The resolution is on the agenda for Wednesday’s commission meeting.