Sun Life deal is a win-win

06/18/2014 6:20 PM

06/18/2014 6:33 PM

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez arrived at a solid agreement that was ripe for County Commission approval. Now that the Commission has signed off, this will be a win-win for the residents of Miami-Dade County and our state’s first professional sports team.

After intense negotiations, they hammered out a fair, innovative and transparent Performance-Based Grant Agreement that will modernize Sun Life Stadium and ensure that our community attracts marquee events, including Super Bowls, for many years to come.

Under the terms of this unparalleled arrangement, Ross will be exclusively responsible for funding a stadium modernization that will attract major events to Miami-Dade. In turn, Miami-Dade County will provide the stadium with an agreed-upon amount from tourist tax dollars, but only after the major event is held.

The modernization of Sun Life Stadium is sorely needed to attract marquee sports and entertainment events, like Super Bowls, College Football Championships, international soccer matches and big-time concerts. These events pump hundreds of millions of dollars into our local economy, and the construction needed to modernize the stadium will create thousands of jobs and provide millions of dollars for local businesses, with 70 percent of the workers and 35 percent of the subcontractors to come from Miami-Dade County.

This is sure to provide a significant boost to our local economy.

Ross has committed that not one dollar of county money will be used to modernize the stadium.

This, in and of itself, is a major benefit to the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County and is unlike any other major stadium project happening in America today. This innovative agreement will almost certainly serve as a model for future public-private partnerships involving professional sports teams.

The people of Miami-Dade County will receive value before any payments are made, and the county is not obligated to pay marquee-event grants until 2024.

Further, no matter how many marquee events the Dolphins attract to Sun Life Stadium in any one year, the incentive payments are capped at $5 million per year.

And if, for any reason, the county does not have sufficient tourist tax dollars to make a payment, the payment rolls over until the following year, eventually expiring if unpaid after a certain number of years. This provision protects the county in the event of an unexpected downturn in tourism.

The Miami Dolphins is the flagship professional sports franchise in Miami and a positive force for bringing our diverse community together.

Team owner Ross has reaffirmed his commitment to Miami-Dade in a firm and clear fashion with this major private investment and his assurance to keep the team in Miami for the next 30 years, even if the team is sold.

This is what a good stadium deal looks like. That’s why the Miami-Dade County Commission voted to approve the arrangement on Tuesday. It makes all the people of Miami-Dade County winners.

H.T. Smith and Jorge Arrizurieta are co-chairs of the MiamiFirst campaign to modernize Sun Life Stadium.

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