Recently in the Miami Herald there was an article outlining the details of the Miami Dolphins quest to get public funding for a new canopy style roof for Sunlife Stadium. There is no doubt that the stadium is beginning to show signs of its true age but fresh in the memory of every Miami-Dade county resident is the debacle of Marlins Park. For those not aware of the issue, Marlins Park was built with primarily public tax revenue after the Marlins organization claimed that they were not able to provide for the costs themselves. It was not four years after the approval that the Marlins ledger’s showed that the team was rolling in a lake of cash from Major League Baseball revenue sharing.
Not a year later from the incident that caused an epidemic of people calling into sports radio shows to complain about how the organization stole money from citizens, the Dolphins feel as if they might get $200 million from the county. The Dolphins are sticking to the plan that without a Super Bowl, Miami’s 11% tax on tourists will begin to dwindle. They claim that the money for the roof project will solely come from that revenue stream. This is essentially the same argument the marlins made all those years ago. The problem doesn’t lie whether they should be entitled to revenue from the tax, because they indeed pack hotels and restaurants when the super bowl is in town. The problem is whether or not any public funding should go into the back pocket of billionaire owners that will fill their bank accounts with greater profits. To play devil’s advocate, who is to say that Miami will get either Super Bowl 50 or 51?
Yet, beside all the negatives against the Dolphins, they somehow got a way to get their issue to a referendum. Not only will the constituents of Miami-Dade County get to vote on whether or not they want over $200 million of tax dollars going into the beautification, but the Dolphins will foot the bill for the elections! It makes me scratch my head and wonder why “Lucifer Loria” hasn’t picked up the phone and asked for their public relations team. The truth is that if this referendum passes, the Dolphins get the biggest tax break in Florida history. The team will get $289 million in funding from a tax hike on tourism and then only have to return $112 million to the county after 30 years. Let’s put 30 years in perspective here. Stephen Ross (Dolphins owner) is now 73, you do the math, 30 years later the man will be 103 and likely six feet under. For those of you who don’t have the pleasure of knowing who Stephen Ross is I’ll make it sweet and simple. The once real-estate mogul is worth $4.4 billion dollars, so are the Dolphins really trying to suggest that one of the more popular NFL franchises can’t afford the renovations on their own dime?
The everyday citizen of Miami-Dade County will never see any improvements in their lives from the money that the professional sports teams get to “beautify” these stadiums. Roads will not be paved, potholes won’t be fix, trash won’t be collected an extra day per week, schools won’t get improvements, and parks won’t be built in the high populated areas. These teams, time and time again, get the money they request then build public relations facilities in an area that “will enhance growth”. Building a miniature football stadium in an impoverished part of the county will not win the hearts of the people within the community nor within the tax payers that are burdening the bill. There is no economic impact on the average citizen that makes these investments worthy. Sure, maybe I won’t sweat as profusely when I’m watching a game, but taking money that can be easily allocated to departments such as public works, water and sewer, environmental resources, and most importantly education will never be worth me dropping a few extra beads of sweat. How would we ever know that the money they use is only coming from that specific tax revenue? Should the tourism industry begin to pool away their allocated taxes and then provide the numbers separately from the county? That would be the only way to actually tell who indeed is paying for these projects.
Omar Moubayed can be followed on twitter @Moubayed11