The community went into shock when they first heard the news that Steve Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, wanted the taxpayers, through the hotel bed tax, to foot the bill to upgrade his Sun Life Stadium. Dejá vu all over again.
First we got stuck with a lease so badly written that to this day the profitable world champion Miami Heat franchise hasn’t been required to pay a dollar to the county for the use of the AmericanAirlines Arena. Then the fiasco with the Marlins P+ark that will go down in Miami history as the biggest boo-boo ever committed by our elected officials.
Now, we are being asked to fund a portion of a $400 million, with the inevitable cost overruns, rehab of Ross’ Sun Life football stadium. Seems he want to cover the seats with a roof so the fans will not be exposed to the sun and heat or to a sudden rainstorm. No, no, no. Why do they need it? Ross said without the upgrades Miami would lose all hope of landing any future Super Bowl games. And, we all know that a Super Bowl game brings millions and millions of dollars to the community. So, come on Miami, fork over the bucks.
Hey sports fans. The 2014 Super Bowl game will be played up north. What would happen if the fans were subjected to another three-foot snowstorm? Would fans actually show up for the game? Would they be allowed to drive to the stadium in three feet of snow? Would the game be played before an empty stadium? I’ll bet they would wish for a suntan in the heat of a South Florida game — new roof or no new roof to protect their heads from the elements.
My first reaction was “No!” Enough is enough with the give me money for another sport facility. It wasn’t that many years ago that we demolished the first basketball arena, built at taxpayer expense, because it wasn’t big enough to meet the Miami Heat’s needs. Remember their move two blocks east to the new AmericanAirlines Arena on the bay?
Then I started listening to the whole story. Ross is willing to pay 51 percent of the $400 million needed to upgrade the stadium. Words I never heard from the owner of the Miami Marlins. Then I started thinking. The University of Miami plays its football games at the stadium. I have attended sellout soccer games at the stadium. I don’t like them but the fans pile into Sun Life Stadium to watch Monster Jam truck demolition shows. And, only the Dolphin owner has made financial donations to local high school sports facilities for the youth of our town.
Then Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez tells the National Football League “Commit to us that we will be awarded the 2016 or ’17 Super Bowl game and Miami- Dade will back the stadium upgrades.” Lastly, what we should have done with the Marlins Park, we will do with Ross’ request — put it on the ballot and let the taxpaying voters of Miami-Dade vote the deal up or down.
All of a sudden it sounds like a winner. Our Florida legislature approves the plan. Ross guarantees his 51 percent contribution. Miami voters give the plan their blessing. It is true, a Super Bowl games in Miami is a big, big financial boost for the community. Everyone gains. So let’s do it. Let’s show the world that we aren’t against Miami’s sports community. We are just opposed to bad deals that hurt the pockets of the taxpayers of Miami and the visitors to our community that pay millions each year in bed tax dollars.
This time we are doing it right.
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