Potential plans to bring upgrades to Sun Life Stadium will go to Miami-Dade County voters, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said at a news conference Monday.
Gimenez said though there is much work to be done, a referendum is a must if the Dolphins wish to have taxpayer money go toward the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of upgrades the team wants.
"We have not begun negotiations at this point, we have simply agreed that as negotiations move forward, that the people of Miami-Dade County must weigh in on any final proposal or agreement," Gimenez said.
Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said he believes the team will get the support needed from the voters, enough to put pressure on lawmakers in Tallahassee.
"[There will be] no new taxes for Miami-Dade County residents and a pledge by Steve Ross and the Dolphins to fund the majority of the cost with private funding," he said.
Part of the public money would come from an increase in hotel taxes. Proposed improvements like new seating, lighting and a roof are priced at roughly $400 million.
The team says Miami's chances of being host to the 2016 Super Bowl and other major events rest heavily on these upgrades.
"With the economic activity that's on the line, Super Bowl 50 alone could bring an excess of $400 million of economic activity to this community," Dee said. "The corresponding jobs that would come from that, what it means to this community, not just this first Super Bowl but subsequent Super Bowls, international soccer, college championship games."
And for those who have lingering distrust over the Marlin's ballpark fiasco, largely paid for with public funds, the mayor made clear, this is a different franchise.
"The financing in no way, shape or form is even going to resemble anything of what the Marlins financing deal was," Gimenez said.
Gimenez said if the referendum happens, the local government would bear the cost of the election, which is about $3-$4 million. County commissioners would also have to approve the referendum.
Norman Braman, who started the successful recall drive against former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez over the Marlins Park deal, promised to get involved in the Sun Life Stadium election.
"This is the Marlins revisited. With the Marlins it was the threat of the club leaving and going out of the community, now it’s a threat we’re not going to get the Super Bowl here as well,” he told NBC 6 South Florida. “And before we didn’t have time for a referendum, now we have time for a referendum."
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