“You have a sure deal here,” said Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami. “You know that they’re going to employ more people. You know that it’s going to bring in more money.”
The Dolphins are asking for the mainland hotel tax to increase from 6 percent to 7 percent, as well as up to $90 million in sales tax rebates, paid out over 30 years. The $3 million annual tax break would be in addition to $2 million in annual payments SunLife is already receiving. Altogether, taxpayer money would help fund about half of the costs for the $400 million renovation. SunLife stadium CEO Mike Dee testified that the revamp would help South Florida attract “four or five Super Bowls and four or five college [football] championship games” over the next quarter-century.
The team’s bill, sponsored by Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, cleared its first hurdle with Tuesday’s vote, but it still faces an uphill climb. There will be several more committee stops and the bill also has to clear the Florida House, where Braynon acknowledged that there’s still some heavy lifting to do.
“In the Senate, I don’t think that we’re going to have as many problems as we’re going to have in the House,” he said.
Several stakeholders came up to Tallahassee on Tuesday to support the bill at its first committee hearing, including Miami Gardens mayor Oliver Gilbert, SunLife stadium CEO Mike Dee and Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce President Bill Diggs.
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce could endorse the Dolphins’ tax plan Wednesday. The business group’s executive board has recommended an endorsement, and the full board will consider the issue at a morning meeting, Chamber executives said.
Miami Herald reporter Doug Hanks contributed to this article. Toluse Olorunnipa can be reached at tolorunnipa@MiamiHerald.com or on Twitter at @ToluseO.