If Miami-Dade raises hotel taxes to land the 50th Super Bowl from the NFL, one group of visitors may not be paying the higher tax: NFL executives.
Among the standard demands from the NFL for communities hosting a Super Bowl is that league employees be exempt from all local taxes. That would free NFL employees from paying an additional 1-percent hotel tax that the Miami Dolphins want for a renovation of Sun Life Stadium — an upgrade the team argues will be crucial if South Florida wants to win the Super Bowl for 2016.
Communities don’t always agree to the exemption — an NFL spokesman said Thursday that South Florida rejected the NFL’s request when Super Bowl last came to Miami Gardens in 2010.
But the region’s rival for the 50th game, Santa Clara, last week announced it would waive hotel taxes for NFL executives. That raises the stakes as the Dolphins lobbying team races to obtain state and county approval of the tax-funded renovation by May 22, when NFL owners will pick a winner.
“It’s pretty mind-boggling what the NFL asks of cities. But they’re a business,’’ said Dan Beerman a City Hall spokesman in Santa Clara, home to a $1.2 billion stadium under construction for the San Francisco 49ers. “I guess if you’re staying for a few weeks, it adds up.”
Rodney Barreto, head of South Florida’s Super Bowl host committee, said the room-tax exemption will likely come up when the panel meets next week in advance of a May 1 deadline to submit a proposal for the ’16 and ’17 Super Bowls.
The May awarding of the 50th Super Bowl is driving the urgency for Miami-Dade to spend as much as $5 million on a referendum in the next eight weeks, with the Dolphins’ backers arguing South Florida shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to host such a milestone event. But as more of the tourism industry endorses the stadium plan, questions have surfaced about how much the community should sacrifice to host the 50th game.
Late Wednesday, Miami-Dade’s largest hotel group announced its support for raising taxes to upgrade Sun Life as long as some of the new money is shared with the county’s tourism bureau. On Thursday, another Senate committee passed the Dolphins’ bill, which would create a new $3 million state subsidy for Sun Life and allow Miami-Dade voters to approve raising mainland hotel taxes to 7 percent from 6 percent.
Dolphins CEO Mike Dee touted the Senate vote in a statement, noting Super Bowl is one potential gain for a renovated stadium: “The people of Miami-Dade know that moderninzing Sun Life Stadium will create thousands of jobs, pump millions of dollars into our local economy, and help make Miami the hub of soccer in North America.”
In exchange for the renovated stadium, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has pledged to center future Super Bowls in Miami-Dade — a big switch from 2010, when most official NFL activities occured in Broward. With Miami-Dade leaders slamming that arrangement as they consider giving public money to the Dolphins, Broward is questioning how much to support the ’16 game.
“There is some pushback from my Broward hotels,’’ said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They’re tired of reading what they’re reading.”