Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Joe Robbie Stadium

We got some additional insights into the proposed stadium upgrades.

First off, we hear about Norman Braman who vows to fight the deal.   Right on.

Then, we hear about the Dolphins launching a website and a twitter feed to build momentum.  And yesterday, Mike Dee told us the Dolphins would open their books if anyone wants to see them.

Okay the website is brochureware, not not unlike what the Marlins did to try and get the public on their side.  The twitter handle is a means to counter everything they hear.   And as for opening their books, I'm calling BS.  That ain't gonna happen.  No private sports owner will ever - EVER - do that.  They may give you a few bits and pieces and claim its from the books, but that's about it.

And also yesterday, "The Donald" made a statement in favor of it.  I've come to the conclusion that if he is in favor of something, we should take the opposite position.

As for the approach, there are two major pieces.  One is legislation in the state to allow for stadiums more than 20 years old, where they plan to renovate in excess of $250 million, and the owner plans to pay more than 50% (meaning pretty much the Dolphins only) getting $3 million a year in state tax breaks.  There was no mention of end date, so we have to assume its forever.  In essence, the Dolphins get free money from the state year over year just for having done a renovation.  And that's in addition to the $2 million a year they are currently receiving.  The bill was introduced yesterday.

Fortunately, there are at least a few sensible people in the legislature who told the press that they didn't think this bill would even get to committee.  Why?  Because its extremely special interest, of course!

Second, the remainder of the money would come from an increase in hotel taxes, essentially increasing taxes from 6% to 7%.  But there are many questions about that.  First, there is a state cap on the amount of hotel tax locally (set at 6%), so it would take the legislature allowing the increase.  Second, the 6% by state and local law can only be used on public facilities.  Apparently, they either want to change this, or use an end run because they lease "public land" for the stadium.

And finally, any increase in taxes would be calculated annually and paid out at some point in the future.  Its not like the county has $275 million lying around it can give the Dolphins.  So my question is: how does this transaction happen?  Does Mr. Ross front the money, and then recover it later?  And when its done, does it stop?  Or does the county have to get a loan for the $275 million to pay back over time with this additional revenue?

My guess is that its the latter.  So, in effect when you hear local leaders say there's no impact to the locals, that's not entirely true because there is an outstanding loan that will have to be paid back - and if there isn't enough hotel tax to cover it, locals are on the hook.

Now I know that the law says that these tax dollars can't be used for things like schools. But if they can change legislation to allow a sports owner to take the money, why can't they change legislation to let schools get this extra 1%?  Wouldn't that make a helluva lot more sense?

Obviously, I am not in favor of any of this.  He wants it renovated, he should build it himself, and not burden me or the people of Florida.

Now as for the public statements about this bringing the superbowl here and helping the economy: that's nonsense.  Hotels are already at 80% occupancy in the winter, and this does help push them above that, for a week.  But hotel rooms are mostly blocked by corporations at lower rates, and the benefit to the local businesses is debateable, based on the number of people and the time they are here.  Plus, of course, there is the downside, like more water usage, trash, security, that offsets some of that gain. 

And as I've noted previously, most of the "jobs" that are created for that week or so are unpaid deals.  Yes, they can boast that they employed x number of people, but its all volunteer hours in exchange for being close to the excitement.  And maybe a slice of pizza. 

Things like the annual boat show, or a major festival are bigger boons than the superbowl.  But the superbowl has the hype, and it does have the indirect benefit of bringing the international spotlight on south florida.

Anyway, other major events have to vie with other big cities with nice weather and nice facilities.  Maybe they win, and maybe they lose out on those.  But the stadium itself is less of a factor than the fact that there is one, its large, and its in desirable place with warm weather.

So....we'll see where this all nets out soon I think.  The decision on superbowl 50 is in May, and the Dolphins hope to have something in place by then, so their bid will "be taken seriously" by the NFL. 


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2 comments

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David I think you are making a lot of assumptions you know nothing about.

Yes there are many things that we don't know, but they will come to light as things move along. I also think that you are selling the impact of a major event in S. Florida short. Those events open doors that were never there before, and the entire area benefits from that.

As far as Norman Braman the owner of Braman Motors in W Palm Beach goes. The only interest he has in improvements is his say no everything the State or County may want to do.

Before you start slinging your arrows and shooting your AK-47 at Ross. Maybe we should wait to see what the facts are. Don't you think ?

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The gun analogy went a little far, but you are entitled to believe what you want, and drink the kool aid.

I've seen enough facts to draw a conclusion and disagree with him using public funds for an unquantified outcome.