South Florida cities ‘tackle’ the Dolphin’s stadium funding issue

Famed Major League Baseball player and manager Yogi Berra is known for saying, “It’s deja vu all over again,” and despite the quirky phrasing there must be a lot of folks in South Florida who are thinking the same thing right about now. Roughly four years after the local baseball franchise, the Marlins, talked Dade County commissioners into funding most of the costs of their new stadium, the Miami Dolphins want the state and county to pay for half of the cost of upgrading Sun Life Stadium.

People are debating the pros and cons of this, although most of the “pros” are coming from the Dolphins owner and his public relations team who have been mailing out full color ads and making phone calls to all the registered voters for the “bed tax” item on the May 14th ballot.

Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall considers the stakes in this high enough that he hosted a town hall meeting at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday April 24th to talk about it with residents. Palmetto Bay Mayor Shelley Stanczyk attended, and about 20 other folks did, too.

In the presentation given by Mayor MacDougall and the town’s Certified Public Accountant, Robert Dadario, they made the case that there is more than meets the eye to the financing plan the Dolphins say will be paid for by tourists and themselves. They say that the arrangement by which the Dolphins would be exempted from $90 million in state taxes and with the remaining public funding coming from the bed tax for hotels would impact everyone. Dadario estimates that it could cost the Town of Cutler Bay $60,000 a year.

Part of the problem is that if the state loses $90 million in revenue by giving the Dolphins special exemptions, the budget shortfall will likely need to be made up by someone else. Guess who? Everyone, either in higher sales taxes or in more cuts to services. Plus, even marginally higher “bed tax” rates will be passed on to the consumers, and if tourists planning trips via the internet travel websites see that they can stay a little cheaper in other Florida cities, those that are unaffected by the higher bed tax, then there may be fewer tourists visiting our area, which is a loss not only for the hotels but all the other places tourists go and spend money, such as restaurants, stores, entertainment and recreational facilities.

The Dolphins argue that the improved stadium will bring more Super Bowls and other events to town and create 4,000 new local jobs. So which side is right? We can only suggest that you weigh the arguments, study the facts and make up your own minds before the May 14th vote. You’ll be living with the results for the next 30 years, either way.

Local artist Mai Yap has invited us (and you) to the inaugural show of Palette Knife Artists of Miami on Friday May 10th, at U.S. Century Bank, located at 15680 SW 88 Street. The opening reception is from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and appetizers and wine will be served. There’s free parking. The exhibit of artists who mainly paint with palette knives also features the work of Ardis Bourland, Susan Feldman, Annie Gonzalez, Magda Martinez, Elena Raffo, Leona Rogers, Lorraine Tucker, Alexandra Urvina and Ana Sora Vadillo, and will run through the month of May.

One for the road… we hear that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise will hold a Public Information Meeting for the purpose of discussing the widening of Florida’s Turnpike from Campbell Drive to US1. The meeting will be in Homestead on Tuesday, May 14, at the Miami-Dade College, Homestead Campus (500 College Terrace, Building F).

“This Public Information Meeting will be conducted as an informal open house from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. In the event that the Public Information Meeting cannot be held on May 14th, 2013, due to severe weather or other unforeseen conditions, it will be held on the alternate date of June 14, 2013 at the same time and place.”

Interested? Got questions? Contact Project Manager Henry Pinzon at 407-264-3802 or by email at

Thought of the Day:

The true danger is when liberty is nibbled

away, for expedience, and by parts.

— Edmund Burke

Gary Alan Ruse contributed to this column.

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About the Author

Michael Miller
Michael co-owns Community Newspapers with his brother Grant and serves as Executive Editor of the group of newspapers. He enjoys writing about local politics and area businesses. Michael can be reached at

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