STADIUM RENOVATION

Stadium deal win-win for the community

 

ht@htsmithpa.com

At first glance, we look like the proverbial odd couple. Yet scratch below the surface and you find two guys — one from Hialeah and one from Overtown — who have very different backgrounds with a lot in common. We have worked hard for decades to build solid careers while always finding time to be deeply involved in the community. That’s why we’ve come together to put Miami First.

The recent deep recession was a major reminder to us that a large number of our fellow Miamians suffer from economic disparity. One way to resolve this longtime community-wide problem is to rev up our economic engines. That what our leaders did at Miami International Airport and PortMiami and that’s what we need to do with SunLife Stadium.

Super Bowls and the college Bowl Championship Series games are huge economic engines for our diverse tourism industry. Dollars spent at area hotels, restaurants and other attractions during those events end up in the pockets of working-class people all over town. Just imagine the impact world-class soccer will bring when played during Miami’s “off” season at a modernized Sun Life Stadium.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross have crafted a public-private partnership that will create over 4,000 jobs and pump millions of dollars into our local economy.

We have seen the numbers and the full plan. It is clear that this partnership is a win-win for the community.

In this partnership, the Dolphins will pay at least $191 million toward modernization right away and will pay back the State and County at least $159 million. Tourists will pay the county’s share and Miami-Dade property taxpayers will never be affected by this partnership.

What makes this proposition even more appealing is the iron-clad pledge that the plans to modernize the stadium are conditioned on landing a Super Bowl for SunLife Stadium at the NFL League Meetings on May 21 or 22 of this year.

Beyond that, the owner has agreed to pay up to $120 million in penalties if SunLife Stadium doesn’t attract Super Bowls, BCS games, international soccer matches and other similar events over the next 30 years. He has agreed to sign a 30-year non-relocation agreement to keep the Dolphins in Miami-Dade.

And the Dolphins will use local vendors and hire Miami-Dade County residents for the work, which will provide a substantial boost to the local economy.

When it is all said and done, we believe this is much more than a sound partnership between the Dolphins and Miami-Dade. Over many years, we have both seen what the Miami Dolphins organization contributes to the community off the field.

Last year, the Dolphins Cycling Challenge Raised $2.2 Million for Cancer Research at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the team has brightened the lives of many with their annual holiday food baskets.

Because the Dolphins are a major part of our community, the NFL created the Youth Education Town (YET) Center at Gwen Cherry Park when Miami hosted the 29th Super Bowl in 1995. Every time the Super Bowl comes to Miami the NFL YET center gets another $500,000.

The Dolphins have partnered with Miami-Dade Schools to honor teachers and students across the county. And they have created the Miami Dolphins Field Grants program to support community sports facilities. This program was critical to funding the renovations of Curtis Park just north of Little Havana, where the Dolphins helped build a concession area and bathrooms.

Nearly everywhere you turn, there’s a Miami Dolphins involvement because Steve Ross, Mike Dee and a host of other team and stadium folks are part of the fabric of our broad and diverse community.

We believe this proposition is a game-changer for how sports enterprises will be situated in their communities. What’s amazing is that it is happening in Miami first. We urge you to learn all you can about this ballot issue and become an informed voter. Most importantly, we urge you to vote.

Businessman Jorge Arrizurieta and lawyer H.T. Smith are paid consultants heading the campaign to persuade voters to approve a tax-subsidized renovation of SunLife Stadium.

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