Friday, March 22, 2013

Dolphins Offer To Reimburse County For Cost Of Public Referendum

Yeah it sounds nice and all, but the comment "if allowed under state law" is apropos. It's not allowed. So it's a hollow gesture.

Also mike dee hints that they'd like to have a referendum on may 7 or 14, which is impossible - because they have to be scheduled 60 days in advance. That window has already closed.

It's called "grand standing" as they play to their audience.

Interesting development on the stadium

Yesterday, the Dolphins announced a slight change in their approach to getting their much-sought-after stadium dollars.

Basically, they are turning the idea slightly.  They will go to Boston (or wherever the owners meeting is on May 22) and pitch Miami as a SuperBowl destination for either L (which would take a Herculean effort to pry it away from San Francisco) or LI in competition with Houston (longshot), *without* having a clear idea of whether improvements will be funded (or how they would be).

Then, if they are awarded the SuperBowl they will hold it as a carrot in their negotiations to get funding.  Essentially, they will prepare the referendum in a way that says "vote to allow us to have the money or we don't get the SuperBowl." 

And if the vote doesn't go their way (and believe me there will be a HUGE effort to try and get it to go their way), the SuperBowl would be re-assigned.

Also, if the owners don't award either of them to Miami, the Dolphins won't pursue the money for now.

So its all in on the owners vote that the Dolphins think/hope will go their way....and of course, the host committee still haven't relented on the tax-holiday for the NFL, which makes this difficult (unless of course they privately agreed to consider it)

Amusingly, the host committee made a comment yesterday that said, essentially, all of South Florida would be included in any SuperBowl.  This is contrary to previous statements, and runs counter to the proposals in Miami-Dade county to keep things in their neck of the woods.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Questions raised over raising tourism tax to improve football stadium

Another op-ed from the Herald:

As chairman of the Miami Beach Convention Center Advisory Board involved in the current Convention Center initiative, I have followed the effort of the Miami Dolphins and Super Bowl Host Committee as they attempt to raise the bed tax to renovate Sun Life Stadium. Several questions have not yet been addressed.

Having spent more than 50 years as a tourism/hotel executive in Florida and founder of the Greater Miami & The Beaches Hotel Association, I have a unique perspective on Florida's tourist taxes. I was involved in 1967 when the first tourist tax was created and again in the creation of the current county Tourist Development Tax now collected in 62 counties throughout Florida.

In order to increase the Tourist Development Tax from 6 percent to 7 percent in Miami-Dade County, proponents have purposely ignored and avoided going public with a simple fact: There is a cap of 6 percent on tourist taxes. Miami-Dade, Duval, Volusia, Orange and Osceola counties have already reached the 6-percent cap.

The Department of Revenue is clear. It states: "Depending on a county's eligibility to levy, the tax rate varies from a minimum of 3 percent to a maximum of 6 percent."

Under "Additional Professional Sports Franchise Facility Tax," Miami-Dade and Volusia are not eligible to levy the tax. A "Report On Florida's Tourist Related Taxes" issued by the state, within the local-option tourist development statute, states that "a variety of conditions exist making it possible for the county governing board to raise the rate to 6 percent." Why has this not been brought out and discussed at the previous committee hearings in Tallahassee?

How can the rate be increased from 6 percent to 7 percent if the Legislature has not lifted the cap? If it's not lifted, does this make the referendum in Miami-Dade County illegal? How can local initiatives override state statutes? Shouldn't those counties previously mentioned be allowed to exceed the cap? Shouldn't this issue be addressed before the citizens of Miami-Dade County spend $5 million of their own tax money to vote on this issue, then find out it was illegal?

This will be the first time that public money will be used to subsidize a privately owned sports team and venue, not just for renovation but also to operate and maintain. The Marlins Ballpark and AmericanAirlines Arena, along with other professional sports venues in Florida, are all publicly owned.

Consider the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. This landmark hotel fills 1,500 rooms on a daily basis with tourists and conventions. It is the largest revenue producer of bed tax and sales tax in Miami-Dade County, not just during football season or a Super Bowl game. Shouldn't we subsidize it or at least have contributed public money to its recent billion-dollar renovation?

A recent PolitiFact story indicated the $500-million figure being used as the economic impact of the Super Bowl is false. Figures range from $100 million to $500 million, depending on whom you believe. In a message to his members, the chairman of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association said, "Many of our board said the revenue impact of a Super Bowl is marginal compared to the rates and [revenue per available room] from regular business during that time of the year."

The proposed $3 million sales tax rebate creating a new category, "renovating a sports facility," has triggered three other bills looking for rebates. These monies — funds that directly impact the quality of life of all state residents — would result in taking $12 million a year for 30 years out of general revenue. That's $360 million unavailable for Floridians.

This, by the way, is in addition to the eight sports venues currently collecting a $2-million rebate for 30 years.

In 2010, the renovation cost was more than $220 million. This time, it's $400 million, and the current amended bill reflects $300 million. Whom are we to believe? Let's not leave out the almost 4,000 additional luxury field seats with 100 percent of the revenue going to the Dolphins.

If the referendum fails in May, will Miami still be in the running for the 2016-2017 game? Will they be allowed to bid without a canopy and HD lighting? If the referendum fails, will owner Stephen Ross, in order to secure the game, pay for the upgrades so that the community can enjoy the financial rewards he has promised?

On a recent talk show, Dolphins President Mike Dee was asked, "Isn't this welfare for a billionaire?" Dee's answer was that, "Just because somebody is wealthy enough doesn't mean he should invest money in a way that is unwise."

If that is the case, why should we?

Stuart Blumberg is founder and former president and CEO of the Greater Miami & The Beaches Hotel Association.

Read more here:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dolphins’ stadium proposal a ‘trick play’

This is an item that appeared in the Miami Herald:

A trick play only works if the defense doesn’t know it’s coming. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is asking for $200 million in taxpayer funds in order to renovate the Miami Dolphins’ stadium, including an exemption on sales taxes for goods sold at the stadium, estimated at $90 million over 30 years. The Dolphins and Ross are seeking to siphon off sales tax revenue that could otherwise be allocated to improve public education, provide better access to affordable healthcare and improve infrastructure.

Ross wants the help of the Florida Legislature and Miami-Dade County to consummate the deal quickly. Unfortunately for us, our community is still reeling from the Miami Marlins Stadium, considered the worst stadium deal for taxpayers in America. If this proposed stadium deal were up to us: we say, no way, no how!

Our community has been led to believe that Ross will personally, “make the initial and most substantial investment in this project.” Our community is being duped because Ross’ so-called investment would come partly from the NFL “G4” Loan Program. To qualify for the low-interest “G4,” the cost of the stadium renovation must exceed $450 million and there must be a public-private partnership where a public entity (Miami-Dade County and the Florida Legislature) commits to financing $200 million. Repayment of the loan is made with the increased revenue from the newly renovated premium seating that our community would finance. This contradicts how Dolphins officials have been pitching this to our community.

We have been told that the Dolphins stadium deal is necessary to make us competitive in Miami’s bid for Super Bowls 50 and 51. We are also told that we have to get this deal done before the May 22nd meeting of the NFL owners.

The current proposal calls for a deal to be struck in Tallahassee and then hold a special election referendum that will cost Miami-Dade taxpayers between $3 million and $5 million. This can mean that a quarter of a billion dollars in taxpayer money would be given to the Dolphins after a low-turnout special election. The most recent poll published by The Miami Herald shows that 73 percent of county residents oppose a taxpayer funded stadium renovation. Why would we be asked to conduct the public’s business in such an irresponsible way?

The stadium deal is not economic development. This is simply a sham designed to increase Ross’ shareholder value of the Dolphins franchise. State and local taxpayers should not transfer their hard-earned income to a private citizen. Even if some of the exaggerated economic development numbers are accurate, Ross, post taxpayer funding, would increase his net worth by $200 million.

If we truly care about economic development and investing in Miami-Dade County’s future, we should not be considering another taxpayer-funded stadium deal. There have been no arguments why $200 million to the Miami Dolphins would yield a better long-term return for our economy than investments in public schools, higher education or better access to healthcare. One thing is for certain, “just because somebody is wealthy enough doesn’t mean he should invest money in a way that is unwise.” Not a problem, Mr. Ross, just let taxpayers invest their money in a way that is unwise.

Florida Rep. Michael Bileca, R-115, Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-105, Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-112

Read more here:

Monday, March 18, 2013

What Dustin Keller Brings To The Table For The Dolphins

When Dustin Keller decided to depart New York to sign with division rival Miami, Dolphins fans were generally encouraged with the move. He was the latest in a number of signings for the Dolphins as Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler already joined the squad. So what can Keller bring to Miami for at least one season?

While Wallace is a huge signing for the Dolphins as far as a receiver goes, Keller will provide second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill with another weapon to utilize. Having a solid tight end to compliment Wallace and Brian Hartline is huge for a guy just now coming into his own. All three of these players have speed, as Keller himself has evolved into one of the quickest tight ends in the NFL. His ability in the red zone will make Miami (and fantasy football) fans happy as well.

The Dolphins were also able to obtain Keller for a reasonable price of just $4.25 million. He comes off of a year in which he was Mark Sanchez’s top target for the Jets. He was originally searching for a long-term deal, but he came to terms instead with Miami on a one-year deal. Without a doubt, he will be playing for a long-term contract possibly next season.

With Anthony Fasano on his way to Kansas City, Keller without question enters 2013 as the top tight end for the Dolphins. Charles Clay and Michael Egnew will probably also receive quite a bit of time there, but they will be complimentary pieces at most. Overall, this seems like a pretty nice fit for both Keller and the Dolphins. The best part is that if the experiment doesn’t work as planned, the player and team can go in their different ways.