Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins hopeful on stadium referendum date

The Miami Dolphins are hopeful the Miami-Dade County Commission will approve a May 14 date for a referendum on the $400 million rehabilitation of their stadium, time enough to get South Florida in play for Super Bowl 50, a Dolphins spokesman said Saturday.

Spokesman Ric Katz said the language of the proposed referendum has yet to be decided, and ultimately the commission decides the date.

But, he said, “we’d be very happy with” May 14 because “that gives us a week to communicate to the NFL before they make the important decision of Super Bowl 50.”

NFL owners are slated to meet on May 22 to pick the site of the 2016 Super Bowl — seen as a tourist revenue prize for whichever host city gets the 50th anniversary contest.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez met Friday with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and CEO Mike Dee to discuss the proposed stadium rehabilitation.

From the mayor’s side, there has been no agreement on a date and Gimenez does not plan to bring the proposed May 14 referendum to the commission at this time, said spokeswoman Suzy Trutie.

Friday’s was a “first meeting” at which “many things were discussed,” including the Dolphin’s preference for May 14.

But, “We continue negotiating with the Dolphins with regards to finances.”

One proposed financing plan would increase the bed tax in mainland Miami-Dade by 1 percent and increase the sales tax rebate the team already gets at the stadium in Miami Gardens. Ross had initially offered to pay at least $201 million in his financing plan. But Katz, a Miami publicist representing the team in the stadium campaign, said the two sides were still in negotiation on what the mayor would ask the commission to put to taxpayers in a referendum.

Trutie said the proposed referendum would gauge public opinion on increasing hotel taxes from 6 to 7 percent to fund the stadium renovations.

Of the commission, Katz said, “We do not take them for granted. They have the prerogative.”

Attorney Kendall Coffey did not return calls asking whether the Dolphins had hired him to write the ballot language.

Dolphins lobbyist Marcelo Llorente had said in recent weeks that the team was considering May 7 and 14 as possible referendum dates.

Any activity by the Florida Legislature would likely have to be undertaken before then. The regular session is slated to end May 3.

Miami Herald staff writers Patricia Mazzei and Doug Hanks contributed to this report.