In My Opinion

Fred Grimm: A stadium upgrade? Broward loves it — if Dade pays

 

fgrimm@MiamiHerald.com

I love sailing. So I have a friend with a sailboat.

This is what we moochers call smart economics.

I love football. So I live in Broward County.

Same strategy. And I can tell you that all of us football-loving moochers in Broward wholeheartedly embrace the fallacious economic arguments proffered by the Miami Dolphins. With the same self-serving fervor that prolongs a kid’s belief in Santa Claus.

Up here in Broward, we really, really, really believe — contrary to the findings of almost any economist not in the pay of the National Football League — that investing $200 million of the public’s money into Sun Life Stadium would be like priming the old prosperity pump.

Of course, it’s not our $200 million that will be rebuilding the stadium formerly known as Joe Robbie, located, conveniently for us moochers, just a mile over the county line. The cost of improving my football-watching experience will be extracted out of Miami-Dade’s economy.

Miami-Dade County, with a tax on their mainland hotels, will pay 49 percent of the cost for moving my seats closer to the field, where I can hurl insults at opposing players without straining my voice. And there will be a nice canopy overhead to remove the sun from Sun Life stadium. And giant TVs, so that watching a live game can approximate watching the game at my home on my high-def television.

All this for me. And Miami-Dade’s picking up the tab. Wow. It’s as if my friend asked me to look after his boat and his wife while he’s out of town.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Monday that before he’ll allow the county to gift all that loot to the Dolphins, he’d want a guarantee that Sun Life would host an upcoming Super Bowl. That’s even better news for us folks in Broward. A study of the economic impact of the 2010 Super Bowl at Sun Life Stadium indicated that Broward tourism businesses took in $57.6 million, while Miami-Dade’s only realized $39.6 million. (Another $12.2 million was spent up in Palm Beach County.)

Of course, economists tend to think these economic impact studies are based on hooey economics. An actual economist, Victor Matheson of Holy Cross University (not in the pay of the sports industry) explained his formula for calculating how this stuff helps local businesses to the Atlantic magazine. “Take whatever number the sports promoter says; take it and move the decimal one place to the left. Divide it by ten, and that’s a pretty good estimate of the actual economic impact.”

But the return on investment only matters to the county putting up the $200 million. That ain’t us.

Back in 2011, the Broward County Commission rather rudely rejected the Dolphins’ suggestion that Broward taxpayers contribute to the renovation of a football stadium that snuggles right up to Miramar. The Sun-Sentinel reported, “Commissioners used terms including ‘vile’ and ‘shameful,’ and one commissioner flatly stated, ‘No. Hell no.’ ”

But as long as we’re not giving the Dolphins a cut of our hotel taxes, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be pumping up their vile and shameful economics. Broward football fans and Broward hoteliers and Broward restaurant owners should be lobbying our county legislative delegation to do whatever they can do to grease a bill that would grant Sun Life a $3 million yearly subsidy from the state.

And we should be lobbying our friends down in Miami-Dade, where there’s talk of putting the stadium financing proposal to a vote. Tell them voting in favor of giving $200 million to a billionaire sports team owner makes for splendid economics — the smartest investment they’ve made since spending all that money on that lovely sailboat.

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