The most prominent opponent of the Miami Dolphins' proposal to partially fund a $400 million renovation of Sun Life Stadium with public money says he will do anything within his power to make sure that Miami-Dade county voters strike down the team's plan at the ballot box.
"I'm going to do whatever I possibly can," billionaire auto dealer magnate and former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman told the Miami Herald on Tuesday. "I will be spending my own money." He said he plans to run a "vigorous campaign" to defeat the proposed referendum.
On Monday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced residents will have a chance to vote on the funding plan in a public referendum.
The Dolphins want to improve seating and lighting at Sun Life Stadium, and also install a roof over the seating areas in the stadium. The team estimates the renovations will cost $400 million, with half that money coming from owner Stephen Ross. The remainder would come from state and local governments.
Last week a Florida Senate panel approved a measure that would guarantee $3 million a year for the next 30 years to help pay for stadium upgrades. The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure in March. The county money will come from a hike in hotel taxes.
Braman, who was the loudest opponent of the deal to finance the construction of Marlins Park largely through public funds, calls the Sun Life Stadium plan "welfare for billionaires."
Braman thinks Ross and the team should foot the entire bill for the stadium makeover. "He can afford to do it himself," Braman said.
The team has prepared for Braman's opposition, buying full-page ads in the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald last month that questioned Braman's objections to the plan. "You are entitled to your own opinion," the ads read, "but not your own facts."
A vote on the referendum has not been scheduled. Under county law, a referendum requires at least 60 days notice, so a vote could come in April at the earliest.
Dolphins CEO Mike Dee told the Herald, "We believe a decision by the voters will go our way."