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Sun Life stadium continues struggle for public financing

Sun Life Stadium

Sun Life stadium continues struggle for public financing

By Derek Joy

     The Miami Dolphins are moving ever closer to a public referendum that will determine whether or not they receive some $200 million in public funding needed to renovate Sun Life Stadium.

    So suave is the effort to influence the voters that the Miami Dolphins Organization has agreed to pay the $3 to $5 million dollar cost of an election.

    They’ve even promised to give back a portion of the $90-million tax rebate the Florida State Legislature granted them over a 30-year period.  But they have yet to pay the entire amount of more than $400-million cost of renovations needed to attract future Super Bowls.

    When previously asked for comment on the issue, Miami Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson (Dist. 3) was very succinct.

    “I have nothing to say about that other than it’s in the hands of the voters. That’s what I voted for and that’s where it should be,” said Edmnonson, who, along Commissioners Barbara Jordan Dist. 1), Natacha Seijas (Dist. 13) and then Mayor Carlos Alvarez faced a recall drive orchestrated by auto magnate Norman Braman.

    Alvarez and Seijas were ousted in the recall that Braman largely  financed because of how County’s Body Politic allowed the Miami Marlins to mislead the public in financing Marlins Park.

    Granted.  The Miami Heat has received public assistance in financing for not one, but two arenas.  The Dolphins have not had the luxury of public financing.

    The late Joe Robbie was literally run out of the city Miami.  He could never get any public financing.  Consequently, Robbie secured private financing for Joe Robbie Stadium, which is now Sun Life Stadium.

    Jordan joined Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III in publicly supporting public financing of stadium renovations.

    Both see it as an economic boost and jobs for their constituents.  Others see the negative side of virtually no benefit to them and higher taxes as a result.

    “Residents have been calling, urging me to vote no,” said Sharon Pritchett, (Dem., Dist. 102), when the House was considering a vote on legislation favorable to the Dolphins winning public financing.

    Stadium renovations would create jobs.  But the question is who will get the jobs?

    Will residents of Miami Gardens land a lion’s share of the jobs, or will the jobs go to those who live in other parts of the county, or even the state?

    Another haunting question is whether or not those jobs will go to immigrants or American citizens?

    Neither of those questions has been addressed by the Miami Dolphins or the elected officials advocating public financing with Hotel/Motel bed taxes revenue or other taxes.

    “They’re going to do what they want to do,” said Gwen Jefferson Douglas, a resident in the Crestview Development of Miami Gardens, a mere stone’s throw from Sun Life Stadium.

    “It’s not fair to us when they have all that money.  They have more money than we have.  They should have the owners and the players contribute some of the money the make.”

    Ironically, in an age when public officials and professional athletes are publicly touting the concept of giving back to the community, we see none of them giving back to finance the renovations of Sun Life Stadium, as Jefferson Douglas suggested.


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