SPORTS

Local organizers say no to NFL hotel-tax exemption

 

South Florida’s Super Bowl committee on Friday rejected an NFL request to exempt league employees from local hotel taxes in exchange for landing the big game.

Responding to a story in Friday’s Miami Herald revealing the request, committee chairman Rodney Barreto issued a statement that said in part: “The South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee will not offer a hotel tax exemption in connection with its bid package for Super Bowls L and LI. Such an exemption is not required, and is but one component of a much larger overall bid package that can provide value to the League in a number of different ways.”

The statement comes as the Miami Dolphins push to raise hotel taxes in Miami-Dade to fund renovations of Sun Life Stadium, arguing the upgrade is crucial to bringing Super Bowl to Miami Gardens in 2016. While Barreto said the committee would not consider exempting the NFL from hotel taxes as the Dolphins push for an increase, he said no decision has been made on NFL requests for exemptions from other local taxes for league employees.

The 50th Super Bowl will be played in ‘16, and South Florida is a finalist with the San Francisco area in the bidding process.

Last week, the mayor of Santa Clara, home city of the San Francisco stadium, said the city would grant the NFL’s request to exempt its employees from local taxes during Super Bowl. It’s one of many concessions the NFL wants from host cities as a way to eliminate as many Super Bowl expenses for a league that generates about $10 billion in revenue a year.

South Florida rejected the request for the 2010 Super Bowl, according to a league spokesman, but agreed to an exemption package in its failed bid for the 2014 Super Bowl, Barreto said.

The NFL requests a broad range of tax exemptions from host cities, including waivers for everything from contributing to local employees’ unemployment insurance to having parking be tax-free during pre-game events. Barreto said in an interview he has decided to only reject the exemption for hotel taxes at this point. The full committee will consider other exemptions in the coming weeks as the group prepares to meet a May 1 deadline for submitting a bid for the ’16 and 2017 games. Committee members also will begin talks with NFL executives next month which can serve as negotiations over some of the requests, he said.

“We need to understand the total ramifications,” Barreto said. “Then we can understand how important it is to the NFL. I can’t believe [not paying taxes on] 200 rooms for NFL employees is that crucial to the NFL.”

The exemption request had the potential to complicate the Dolphins’ push for a higher hotel tax to help win Super Bowl as the NFL asks not to pay the tax during Super Bowl.

Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, referred to a statement he issued Thursday night. The statement noted the exemption requests are optional and just one component of “the overall bid package that a community may weigh as part of the process to bring a Super Bowl that will generate hundreds of millions in economic impact and exposure.”

In recent weeks, San Francisco leaders have been touting their area’s harmonious pursuit of the 2016 Super Bowl while South Florida is increasingly divided over how best to capture the game. The Dolphins say the tax-funded renovation is crucial for winning the ’16 Super Bowl, and the issue is expected to go before Miami-Dade voters days before NFL owners meet on May 22 to award the game.

Broward’s tourism bureau this week said it was having trouble rounding up rooms as the Dolphins promise to keep most of Super Bowl in Miami-Dade once the tax-plan is approved. Barreto recently told a legislative panel that 75 percent of the ’16 Super Bowl activities would take place in Miami-Dade.

The Dolphins’ plan is to create a $3 million state subsidy for the stadium and increase mainland hotel taxes to 7 percent to 6 percent to fund just under half of the renovation. Team executives have said they are willing to put in more money as part of a deal with Miami-Dade. Legislative committees have endorsed the plan, as has the Miami-Dade County Commission. Miami Beach this week passed a resolution against the plan.

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