Commissioner Barbara Jordan, the new toady-in-chief for the Miami Dolphins’ raid on the public treasury, proclaimed last week that she’s supporting their demand for $199 million in taxpayer money to renovate their stadium because “it’s creating over 4,000 local jobs and we are going to get a world-class facility.”
Let’s assume for a moment that the claim about jobs is not the usual lie that professional sports teams inevitably spout when begging for subsidies.
(Like, say, the prosperous entertainment mecca that the Marlins assured us would sprout up around their new stadium if we only gave them $480 million to build it.)
Each of those jobs Jordan is promising will cost us $49,750.
At that rate, we might do better to bundle the money up and drop it randomly from helicopters — especially if Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland would be doing the job interviews. Ireland is the guy who in 2010 infamously asked a college football player the team was considering drafting if his mother was a whore.
Oh, one last thing, commissioner: We aren’t going to get a world-class facility. Stephen Ross will.
He’s the New York real estate tycoon who owns both the Dolphins and the stadium. He’ll swoop down here from his $30 million, 8,300-square-foot Manhattan penthouse overlooking Central Park, stuff the cash in his carpet bag, and fly home.
The very saddest thing about all this is that our politicians couldn’t even find an avaricious plutocratic local swine to give away our money to — they had to outsource the job to New York. We must not be a world-class city after all.
When stadium critic Norman Braman last week referred to the proposed deal as “welfare for a multibillionaire,” he nailed it squarely. Forbes magazine last September estimated Ross’ net worth at $4.4 billion, and it may have gone up since then as Ross forges ahead with a $15 billion development project on Manhattan’s west side that has the entire city agog. (“It’s not all about the money,” Ross swore to Forbes. Say what you will about the guy, he has a sense of humor.)
He could easily afford to pay the $199 million he’s asking us for; he gave the University of Michigan law school $100 million just to put his name on the building. And here’s a little secret Ross doesn’t want you to know: He’s going to end up spending less to renovate his own stadium than we are.
The NFL has a slush fund from which team owners can get up to $200 million for stadium costs. How much will Ross get? The Dolphins call the question “speculative” and refuse to answer until the state and country commit to the $199 million giveaway.
Once everything is signed, it won’t matter how much taxpayers are outraged to learn that Ross’ contribution is a bag of orange peels and some old Chad Henne bubblegum cards.
The Dolphins’ mantra since they proposed it is that “this is nothing like the Marlins deal.” In fact, it’s exactly like the Marlins deal. A rich guy who doesn’t need it is asking for a handout. He’s flinging around unsupported and ultimately absurd promises about the economic impact. He’s trying to get it done in a matter of weeks so that opposition doesn’t have time to build. And he’s desperately trying to keep the decision away from a voter referendum, which he’ll lose, and in the hands of local politicians whose votes are rendered safe by their drooling lust for campaign contributions.