“That is really a host committee decision, not a team decision,” said Ric Katz, a Miami publicist representing the team in the stadium campaign. “I don’t think we can dictate the name of the committee.”
Of course, the host committee also plans where to house the official Super Bowl activities, which Ross and his representatives have pledged to keep out of Broward and in Miami-Dade. Miami appears to be the current pick for a Super Bowl hub if South Florida wins the bid, but Katz said the Dolphins expect businesses throughout the region to benefit from the game.
“The NFL is placing great emphasis on an urban experience, and the Miami Dolphins are seeing to it that the experience takes place in Miami,” Katz said. “No one is trying to deprive Broward hoteliers and restaurateurs a portion of the business.”
Barreto has said he expects the local Super Bowl brand to remain “South Florida,” and that was what landed on the mock-up Super Bowl L logo in January when his committee unveiled it during a ceremony in downtown Miami. Barreto’s in a tricky position, as he heads the committee that has relied on Broward to help subsidize Super Bowls but is also a leading advocate for the Dolphins as the team presses their case with Miami-Dade lawmakers. One of Barreto’s partners in a Coral Gables lobbying firm, Brian May, is a registered lobbyist for the Dolphins in the stadium push.
In an interview, Barreto suggested Broward would remain an official Super Bowl host.
“I believe that at the end of the day, Broward is a partner in this,” he said. “They could host different things. We’ve got to get creative. The reality is they’re going to benefit.”
But the Dolphins’ promise of a bigger Super Bowl payoff for Miami-Dade is finding a receptive audience among elected leaders.
Barbara Jordan, the Miami-Dade commissioner whose district includes Sun Life Stadium, emphasized that point when she sponsored a resolution last month endorsing the team’s tax plan. After private meetings with team executives, she told fellow commissioners that a Super Bowl won by a renovated stadium would be Dade’s alone.
“When we get that Super Bowl, all of the activities will be in Miami-Dade, and not be shared with any other community outside of Miami-Dade County,” she said before leading the commission in a 9-4 vote in favor of the resolution.
No matter where the NFL opts to base its pre-game activities, Broward can count on a windfall of hotel bookings during Super Bowl.
With the NFL demanding advanced reservations for about 19,000 hotel rooms, Barreto’s group needs major commitments from both Broward and Miami-Dade hotels. Broward could play an even larger role if the Super Bowl overlaps with Miami’s annual boat show, which is held on one of the three weekends the NFL has proposed for the ’16 and ’17 games. Miami-Dade’s tourism director, William Talbert, warned publicly in November that “it’s not physically possible” for Miami-Dade to accommodate both events.
Talbert, president of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, did not respond to interview requests regarding the Super Bowl bid or the Dolphins’ tax plan.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his staff plan to negotiate a funding arrangement with the Dolphins that would probably go before county voters in May. State lawmakers also must approve allowing Miami-Dade’s hotel tax to climb to 7 percent from 6 percent, and also vote on a $3 million state subsidy for Sun Life the Dolphins want on top of the $2 million it already receives from Florida. Gimenez said he might require a Super Bowl award from the NFL before assigning hotel taxes to the Dolphins.
The Dolphins’ plan would raise the tax that guests at mainland Miami-Dade hotels pay from 13 cents on the dollar to 14 cents, when state and county sales taxes are added in. That matches the 14 percent average tax charged in the country’s 50 top hotel markets, according to the Global Business Travel Association, but would widen the gap between Miami-Dade and the 11 percent in taxes that Broward hotel guests pay.
Taxes make up a small part of the pricing gap between Broward and Miami-Dade, which has some of the highest hotel rates among the country’s top vacation markets. The typical Broward guest pays about 40 percent less per night on a hotel room than they would in Miami-Dade ($115 versus $165, according to Smith Travel Research).
Barreto’s group has until April 1 to submit South Florida’s formal bid for the 2016 and ’17 Super Bowls, which are scheduled to be awarded at the same May 22 meeting of NFL owners. San Francisco and the site of the 49ers’ new stadium, Santa Clara, are the only other finalist for ’16, and the loser will bid against Houston for the ’17 Super Bowl.