The Miami Dolphins are trying frantically to convince state and local governments to finance $400 million in renovations to Sun Life Stadium, but their former tenants, the Miami Marlins, may have killed any public support for such a plan for good.
The Miami Herald reported Sunday that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will announce a plan for stadium renovations that includes asking for the state and Miami-Dade County for financing. Recent attempts, including a 2011 bill to raise hotel taxes to fund a renovation plan were scuttled by lawmakers.
The Herald polled Miami-Dade residents in October, and 84% opposed spending public money to build a roof on Sun Life Stadium.
State Sen. Oscar Branyon, a Democrat representing Miami Gardens, told the Herald "It can't be anything close to what the Marlins did. Unless you do something totally counter to what the Marlins did, nobody is going to vote for it."
The Herald reported that the team will ask the state to raise its sales tax rebate from $2 million to $4 million. Miami-Dade County will be asked to raise mainland hotel taxes from 6% to 7%, with the extra 1% earmarked for the stadium (roughly $10 million a year).
The rest would be paid by Ross himself, according to the Herald. The total cost is expected to be $400 million, nearly twice the bud gent of a 2011 plan released as part of the hotel tax bill.
The Dolphins faced unwanted comparisons to the Marlins in 2011, but that was before the team executed a historic salary purge and fire sale after its first season in Marlins Park.
"We're furious what the Marlins did slashing payroll, because this will make it more difficult for us [with politicians]," one Dolphins official told the Herald in a separate report.
The renovations are necessary for the stadium to continue winning bids to host the Super Bowl, college football championships, and other bowl games. "We need to keep up with the times," a business leader told the Herald.
These renovations could extend the stadium's life by 25 to 30 years, but the Dolphins clearly face an uphill battle in getting any money from taxpayers. Stephen Ross could have to fund this entirely himself if he cannot create enough distance between himself and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.