A majority of commissioners agreed with Sosa — even though she voted against — when she said it was “totally unfair to judge the proposal of the Dolphins because of the Marlins.”
Moss’ fear of “going down the road we went down before” was set aside by Gimenez.
“I will never bring anything to this body anywhere near the financing of the Marlins deal,” said Gimenez, recounting how one $80 million Marlins bond will cost the county close to $1.2 billion when it is finally paid off, and how refinancing it isn’t possible.
Commissioners on both sides emphasized the public’s opposition to the Marlins deal, which the commission approved in 2009.
“This is not the Florida Marlins,” said Heyman, who voted against the Marlins deal but in favor of the Dolphins’ measure Wednesday. “It is something completely different.”
How do the two deals compare?
Both rely on Miami-Dade hotel taxes for the bulk of the government funding, though the Marlins used a small portion of general county funds and the Dolphins would use a small portion of general state funds.
The Dolphins would use public money to pay for 49 percent of the renovation of the team’s privately owned stadium. The Marlins deal used public dollars for 75 percent of the new baseball stadium and parking complex, both of which are government-owned.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross would contribute $201 million in private money for the renovations. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria contributed $155 million in private dollars (though $35 million of that was borrowed by Miami-Dade and is being paid back through yearly rent payments to the county that will range between $2million and $5 million for the next 35 years).
Miami-Dade is also paying back $50 million in Marlins-stadium debt using revenue from property taxes-- the same pot of money used to pay police, road repair and other government expenses. The Marlins expense was wrapped into the Orange Bowl renovation that voters approved in 2004 as part of the Building Better Communities bond package. The property-tax debt made up approximately 10 percent of the overall government financing for Marlins Park.
Under the state bill endorsed by commissioners, the Dolphins would receive a new $3 million annual subsidy for the stadium paid out of the state’s general fund.
The Dolphins pay $3 million a year in county property taxes. The Marlins pay no rent aside from the financing costs tied to the $35 million county loan
The Dolphins introduced their plan at a Jan. 14 press conference. Since then, they have been meeting with various entities to answer questions and allay fears of similarities with the dreaded Marlins deal. The team has said it is not wedded to the funding sources it has identified if alternatives are possible.
Auto magnate Norman Braman has denounced Ross’ attempt to use public money, saying his fellow billionaire doesn’t need the public’s help.
The team also could get some help from the NFL, which reserves funds for stadium projects. Those funds are created through a revenue-sharing system in the league, are considered loans. They go only to teams that are able to secure some public financing.
Dolphins spokesman Ric Katz called the NFL money “speculative” until legislation passes supporting the Dolphins’ financing plan.
The Dolphins have one of the largest debt loads in the NFL. Ross inherited a $210 million renovation bill when he bought the team from Wayne Huizenga in 2007. Overall, the team, valued at $1.06 billion by Forbes magazine, has $380 million in debt.
This story was revised to correct the source of property-tax dollars in the Marlins deal.
Miami Herald Staff Writer Patricia Mazzei contributed to this report.