The Miami Dolphins short-lived campaign for a subsidized Sun Life Stadium renovation appeared doomed from the start.
A majority of Miami-Dade voters who cast ballots in the special stadium election before it was called off opposed the $350 million makeover, according to a count the elections department released late Tuesday.
The tabulation showed that among the 60,678 voters who voted by mail or at early-voting sites, 34,780 about 57 percent opposed the Dolphins proposal, compared to 25,898 or 43 percent who favored it.
The vote tally, though revealing partial results for an incomplete election, provides a snapshot of the opinion of voters who voted early, despite not knowing whether their ballots would ultimately count.
The Dolphins were foundering at the polls at the time the referendum was canceled, the count shows, but a team spokesman dismissed any notion that the proposal would have failed.
Today is another reminder that all Miami-Dade residents should have had an opportunity to vote, Eric Jotkoff said in an email. Based on these incomplete results, we were ahead of our internal projections.
These numbers simply validate our belief that had all of Miami-Dade voters had the opportunity to make their voices heard, we are confident the modernization of Sun Life Stadium would have prevailed.
A countywide vote had been scheduled for Tuesday but required approval from Florida lawmakers, who concluded their annual session without passing Dolphins-backed legislation. With the bill in limbo until the last day of session, voters began casting absentee and early ballots in the most unusual of elections where their votes wound up being moot.
That didnt bother Andres Moya, a 58-year old registered Democrat who voted by mail against the renovation.
I wouldnt give money to anybody who doesnt need it: a guy whos a multi-billionaire, Moya, a retired county worker who lives in the Coral Terrace area, said in an interview referring to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, a real-estate developer.
I was glad that it did not go to a vote, Moya added. And I dont think it was going to pass.
Norman Braman, the Miami auto magnate who lobbied Tallahassee to block the Dolphins efforts, said after learning of the vote tally that he did not feel vindicated.
Its time to put this behind us, he said, adding that he hopes Ross will make any necessary improvements to the Miami Gardens stadium, built in 1987.
Of the Dolphins expensive campaign, Braman said: When you consider there was no organized opposition to this I didnt run an ad, and I didnt send out anything its just a tragic waste of money.
The Dolphins spent nearly $10 million on the referendum: a $4.8 million nonrefundable payment to the county to cover the election costs and $4.5 million between April 14 and May 10 on an exhaustive political campaign to lure reliable voters to the polls. Thats at least $356 per yes vote, according to Tuesdays vote tally.
At the request of Miami-Dade commissioners, the team negotiated the renovation agreement with Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who said he endorsed the deal but would not campaign for it. In a statement Tuesday, Gimenez emphasized that part of the deal required the Dolphins to pay for the election.