Stephen Ross clearly wants to spin his decision to pay for renovations to Sun Life Stadium out of pocket as an act of something akin to charity. The Miami Dolphins owner has now issued his first public statement on the decision, and sidesteps the issue that the deal would see him skipping out on millions of dollars of property taxes a year.
Here's Ross's statement in full:
"I have made clear I want the stadium modernized because it's right for our fans and it's right for Miami-Dade and South Florida. I have decided the best way to get this done is to pay for the project with private funds. All we ask in return is that we are treated the same as all franchises in the state of Florida. A world-class city needs a world-class stadium.
We haven't won a Super Bowl bid in Miami-Dade in far too long, and we know that with the stadium as an issue, we never will unless it is modernized. The Super Bowl Committee will have to decide if they want to compete for the next two Super Bowls so time is of the essence. It is time to move forward.
This privately funded project will create more than 4,000 local jobs. We can bring back the Super Bowl, the College Football Playoff Championship and world-class soccer matches -- and all the revenue those big events generate for the local community. I am going to make the commitment and provide the resources because Miami deserves the economic benefits of a modernized stadium.
But for me, this is about something more. I grew up here in Miami-Dade and have been part of this area for most of my life. I want to do this for the community that has done so much for me, and for this storied franchise that means so much to the people of South Florida. With this project, we can secure the future of the Dolphins in Miami-Dade for another 20 years. That is more important to me than anything else."
The only reference to the "catch" is the "all we ask in return is that we are treated the same as all franchises in the state of Florida," bit.
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Unlike Marlins Park and American Airlines Arena, Sun Life Stadium is privately owned. He wants to hand over ownership to Miami-Dade County. However, that would mean that he'd no longer owe the stadium's $3.8 million-a-year property tax bill. Last year's bill included $1.3 million to the school system and around $1 million to the city of Miami Gardens. Sun Life is Miami Garden's single biggest taxpayer.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is said to be considering the deal as long as something can be worked out so that the budgets of the school system, library funds, and Miami Gardens don't take a hit.
And as nice as attracting Super Bowls is, local children's education and tax support for one the area's poorest cities is a bit more important.