Broward hotels contribute more rooms to the NFL lodging package than Miami-Dade hotels do, Grossman said, largely because Broward has cheaper hotels that can more easliy provide the discounted rates the NFL demands for Super Bowl. But with backlash over Super Bowl discussions in Miami-Dade, lining up Broward rooms needed for the NFL’s overall request of 19,000 beds has been like “pulling teeth,’’ Grossman said.
The Fontainebleau, the Intercontinental Miami and other large hotels in Miami-Dade were some of the first supporters of the Dolphins plan, which also won early backing from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. This week’s endorsement by the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association is the first tourism group to back the proposal, which is significant since many of the GMBHA’s members would pay the higher hotel taxes.
But in debating the matter, some GMBHA board members dismissed the value of a Super Bowl played during the peak of South Florida’s tourism season.
“Many of the directors felt that, even though a Super Bowl is a great asset to the community, it would at best bring marginal growth in revenues due to high occupancies and high [rates] that already exist for that time of the year,’’ the group’s chairman, Raj Singh, wrote in a March 11 letter to board members. He added the critics saw the “real value” of a renovated Sun Life from new sports and entertainment events that would come in the summer, when hotel rates are down.
One of the weekends the NFL wants reserved for Super Bowl conflicts with the Miami Boat Show, and Miami-Dade’s tourism director has warned it would be impossible to host both events at the same time. Miami Beach commissioners this week passed a resolution opposing the Dolphins’ plan, calling claims of Super Bowl’s economic boost “unsubstantiated.”
On Thursday, GMBHA’s Singh said the Super Bowl skepticism came from a small group of board members, and that most saw the NFL championship as a windfall. Dolphins lobbyists have predicted a $500 million infusion from Super Bowl 50, while academic skeptics say the true boost from a Super Bowl is somewhere between $50 million and $100 million.
Revenue figures show hotel taxes surge when Super Bowl comes to South Florida — up 33 percent in February 2010 and 17 percent in February 2007, when Super Bowl XLI came to Miami Gardens. Spending surges like that have helped the NFL wring concessions from host cities and states throughout the years.
In Florida, state lawmakers passed legislation exempting Super Bowl game tickets from sales tax. (The same law also exempts professional baseball and basketball championships from the tax.) Miami-Dade estimates it spent about $5 million hosting the 2010 Super Bowl, including $1.5 million in cash. Broward contributed $2 million to the game.
A source familiar with NFL requirements provided The Miami Herald with excerpts of the NFL’s Super Bowl requests from recent years. For the 2016 and ’17 games, the NFL added a provision that wasn’t present in language a couple of years before: Not only would the NFL’s employees be exempt from state and local taxes, it wanted rebates on any taxes pased through to the league from local Super Bowl vendors.
The language also specifies the broad range of taxes the NFL doesn’t want to pay: “income, gross receipt, franchise, payroll, sales, use, admission, or occupancy taxes as a result of holding the Game at the site.” That includes parking for Super Bowl events, according to the language. The exemption would cover site visits for up to a year before the game. The Host Committee, NFL and Dolphins have declined to make public the ’16 and ’17 bid package that the NFL delivered to South Florida last year, and governments in Broward and Miami-Dade say they do not have copies.
While NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said South Florida declined the hotel-tax exemption in 2010, the Host Committee’s Barreto said organizers did not recall the request.
Exempting league employees from Miami-Dade’s hotel tax would amount to a tiny amount of money the county collects from hotels during Super Bowl. But the money is significant enough that the NFL has been asking for it in recent years as cities compete to host Super Bowls. Last week, Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews said the city agreed to the exemption. While it generates about $10 billion a year, the NFL is organized as a non-profit, which shields it from paying federal income taxes.The arrangement has drawn fire from Congressional critics. who cite Commissioner Roger Goodell’s $30 million salary.
The NFL’s McCarthy wrote Thursday that the hotel-tax exemption is one benefit communities can consider offering the league to be “part of the processs to bring a Super Bowl that will generate hundreds of millions in economic impact and exposure.”