Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stadium Improvements: Round 97

You all know that I am not a fan of the owner, and I am an opponent of using public funding for stadia.

And then I heard the report yesterday that Mr. Ross is considering financing improvements himself.  And wow, that sounds great! Way to go Mr. Ross!


All isn't quite as simple as it seems. The deal is that in exchange for doing it himself, he will transfer ownership of the stadium to the county, and will avoid paying taxes on it in the future.

Sounds like an fair trade-off right? Of course, as the Herald reports, the $4ish million in taxes that supports the local community (schools and city) would now be gone.  But I'm curious about something else - what happens to the debt load on the stadium?  The low and no interest loans totaling around $200 million. Would the county now be on the hook for that?  It belongs to the stadium, so presumably they would have to take that as well....right?

I sure hope the county financial people study this thoroughly, to ensure that don't suddenly take on something unintentionally that turn out fiscally irresponsible.

And there's another piece to this puzzle that bothers me a bit.  The main thing keeping the Dolphins in town was the stadium.  If they don't have that "problem" anymore, who's to say that they won't bolt after handing over the keys?  The Dolphins have been careful to tell the press they would transfer ownership AFTER they do improvements. But a handshake isn't worth much these days.  Again, the county needs to consider it carefully. 

And if they did do things right, you can bet that in the next 5 or so years, they'll be back asking for improvements to the stadium that the county owns.

Oh and just one more thing: the Dolphins are once again making a push to get the state tax break that they sought last year. And they want another subsidy from the county in taxes (on top of the amount that they would save from not paying the taxes).

So the deal could be okay if they can work out these details.  Its certainly better than the last deal in any case...

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I would like it if Ross puts 400 Million of his own money into the stadium. Something to lock the Dolphins into staying in Miami. But as you say they would need to make sure that money is locked in before they do anything.