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Florida: Will Sales Tax Fund NFL Stadium?

  • Mar 13, 2013 | Gail Cole

 Sun Life Stadium Renovation Could Go Sideways Without Taxpayer Funding.

The Miami Dolphins want to give Sun Life Stadium a facelift, and while the team says it will pay for some of the work, taxpayers may be asked to cover the rest. The total cost of the renovation is expected to be $400 million; public financing would be $200 million.

The Dolphins say Sun Life Stadium needs to be revamped "to accommodate not only the Dolphins, but the University of Miami, the college football Orange Bowl, the Super Bowl, professional soccer games and other events." Others acknowledge that the stadium is good for the economy. NBC Miami reports that both the Aventura Marketing Council and the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce support the renovation, noting that Sun Life Stadium creates jobs and economic stimulus.

Florida lawmakers are currently considering HB 165, which would:

  • Allow certain local option tourist development taxes to finance the renovation of certain professional sports franchise facilities;
  • Require the board of county commissioners to have a specified vote for the levy of additional tax to be used for this purpose; and
  • Require voter approval of the tax in a specified referendum.

The bill "would guarantee $3 million a year in state money for the next 30 years to help pay for stadium upgrades." It was approved last week by the the House Finance and Tax Subcommittee in a 12 to 4 vote, and now awaits approval in the Economic Affairs Committee. (NBC Miami).

A similar measure in the Senate, SB 306, has been approved in two committees. The Senate Appropriations Committee will rule on it later this week.

Not all lawmakers think using taxpayer money to fund the project is a good idea. Representative Bill Hager (R-Delray Beach) said, "The NFL is conning us." Other lawmakers want billionaire owner Stephen Ross to pay for more of the renovations himself, or return money if he sells the team. (NBC Miami). Remember the Seattle Sonics? Their new owner sold the team to Oklahoma when voters refused to build them a new arena.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has said that voters must approve the renovation plans. He may also seek assurances that the upgraded stadium would host more Super Bowls, and make taxpayer money contingent on that.

It will take 60 to 90 days to arrange the election, if the Dade-County Commission decides to put the issue to a vote. The hope is that the issue would be settled before May 22, when the NFL owners are expected to decide where Super Bowl L will be held -- Santa Clara, California or Miami. "Miami's bid hinges on the improvements to Sun Life… ."

The Miami Dolphins is not the only team seeking better digs. Lawmakers are also considering funding renovations at the Jacksonville Jaquars' stadium and the Daytona International Speedway. Money for a new soccer stadium is also being discussed. (NBC Miami).

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Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.