As the Miami Dolphins push Miami-Dade County to raise hotel taxes in pursuit of Super Bowl 50, Broward County’s tourism industry may be fighting for some home-field advantage.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is pledging to base future championships in Miami-Dade if his proposed financing plan to renovate Sun Life Stadium gets approved, and he has come close to apologizing for the central role Broward played as host of the 2010 Super Bowl.
“We are the Miami Dolphins,” Ross said the day he proposed using $199 million in state and county dollars to fund half of the upgrades for the 25-year-old stadium. “We know the NFL headquarters will be in Miami. The last time it was in Broward, way before I got involved. I can tell you, it will be in Miami. That’s who is going to benefit.”
The pursuit of the 2016 Super Bowl looms large in the Dolphins’ effort to win Miami-Dade taxes for the upgrade, with team executives campaigning for a referendum in time for the May meeting when Ross and his fellow NFL owners award the 50th championship game. The push isn’t sitting well in Broward, which paid $2 million toward Super Bowl expenses in 2010 but now warns that local organizers can’t count on the money this time around.
“The news out of Miami-Dade County about what goes where and what may happen with the Super Bowl certainly doesn’t lend itself to Broward saying, ‘How can we participate?’ ” said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, a county agency. “Why would we make a significant contribution to the host committee if we’re getting no Super Bowl events?”
Private sponsors fund the bulk of local Super Bowl budgets, which typically land between $12 million and $15 million, said Rodney Barreto, the longtime chairman of the region’s host committee for the games. In 2010, Miami-Dade paid $1.5 million to the committee, and its tax-funded tourism bureau paid about $400,000. Losing Broward’s contribution would mean more of an uphill climb for the committee’s fundraisers, though Broward would likely offer to pay something in order to participate in the bid.
All in the name
But the issue is a prickly one. In 2007, Miami-Dade lost top billing for local Super Bowls when the NFL changed the official host from “Miami” to “South Florida.” The regional brand continued in 2010, when Broward played host to the Super Bowl’s official media center, headquarters hotel and other official NFL events. An economic study funded by Barreto’s host committee put the 2010 game’s direct impact at $58 million in Broward compared to $40 million in Miami-Dade.
When the Dolphins in 2011 proposed changing state law to allow both Broward and Miami-Dade to raise hotel taxes to fund a Sun Life renovation, Broward commissioners berated the plan. Mike Dee, the team’s CEO, later warned the vote against the plan might cost Broward a role in future Super Bowl bids. And the Dolphins have hinted at a bigger shift south for spending tied to the NFL, with Dee telling Miami-Dade commissioners the team wouldn’t rule out moving its training facility out of Davie and into Miami-Dade as part of a financing deal.
On Thursday, a Dolphins spokesman was also non-committal on whether a 2016 Super Bowl might change back to “Miami” as the official host, rather than “South Florida.”