Friday, May 03, 2013

And thus endeth this quest for funds

Politics are a funny thing.  The Dolphins wanted two bills to be passed by the Florida legislature: (1) a tax rebate of $3 million a year, and (2) to raise the cap on the tourist bed tax in order for Dade county to "loan" them somewhere around $300 million.

Both went through various committees and were vetted and generally progressed for a period of time.  But the legislators said that ultimately if #2 went through it would have to be approved by the Dade county voters.  Common sense would dictate that the Fins would wait until after the bills made their way through before setting an election.  But because they wanted to show the NFL they were serious, the Fins took a gamble and paid out $5 million for a ballot initiative without knowing what might happen.

And here's where politics take center stage.  The legislative session ended today, so they had to have the bills passed by today.  The clock was ticking, and while they both made their way through the senate, the house was another story.  Obstructions abounded  Absurdly, Mike Dee, Steven Ross, Dan Marino, and even Roger Goodell made appearances in the capitol, and posed for pictures and lobbied for the bills.

What I find odd about good old Rog visiting was that he said Florida might not get more SuperBowls if they didn't approve this deal.  Now I know Miami is the stadium that we're talking about - but why wouldn't Tampa be considered?  Seemed weird to me....

A couple of days ago, the Dolphins said they would forgo the $3 million a year (ie #1), due to a perceived lack of appetite for such a deal.  There was another bill that would divvy up a pool of money because there are other stadia that are also asking for money (the Bucs, an Orlando facility for soccer, among others); and the Dolphins would vie for some of that pot.  They could live without it.....except that the very next day bill 1 was added to bill 2, such that they would be worked in together!  No loss there for the Fins, there, in spite of public statements otherwise.

Interestingly, I heard some reports about early voting and mail ballots for the Dade county referendum that said it was vague and unclear.  And that an investigation into the language of what Dade might actually give the Dolphins was also decried as vague - and probably favored the Dolphins more than we had been led to believe.  Also there was some language that exempted some hotels from the tax - and some groups would be exempt as well (remember, the NFL asked not to pay tax if they stayed at area hotels; not sure if they were the ones exempted but could be)

Yesterday, the legislature saw the bill was going nowhere, so they did something totally ridiculous (and political): they added the entirety of bills 1 & 2 as amendments onto a bill that was just an adminstrative tax bill that otherwise might have passed by an overwhelming majority.

It went nowhere, so earlier today, they did it again and added other amendments onto this bill - things that people who might otherwise vote against the Dolphins bills actually wanted - in the hopes that in order to get what they wanted, they might vote for the stadium deal.

No deal.  The vote never happened, and so the Fins get nada from the state, tourists, the county, or any other public source.

And the referendum is now off.  But the money has been spent.  And of course there were a slew of lobbyists who were paid, the Dolphins held job fairs, printed ads, and ran a campaign....In other words, the Dolphins contributed $5 million to Dade county, and hundreds of thousands to the community. For which we're all pretty happy.  Thanks for giving back!

And the stadium?  It goes nowhere.

What does Steve Ross do next?  Who knows?

What does it mean for premiere events?  Again, who knows?

I suppose Steve will make a public statement at some point - either going ahead on his own, or getting some other sort of funding.

But there ya go...

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1 comments:

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Good article David