Well, consider this a win in the battle against using public money to pay for professional sports facilities. The Associated Press reports that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has dropped his push for public financing to fund renovations to the aging Sun Life Stadium and will soon announce he'll pay for them himself.
Update: Not so fast! Ross would foot the bill for the stadium upgrade only in exchange for a deal that would let the team out of paying property taxes on the stadium.
The original AP report was pretty terse. It cites only an anonymous source but says Ross will soon publicly announce his intention to pay for the $400 million upgrade out of pocket. Ross is also talking to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez about the plan.
As it turns out, the deal would be a lot more complicated. According to the Miami Herald, Ross would essentially relinquish ownership of the stadium to Miami-Dade County. Marlins Park and American Airlines Arena are also owned by the county, so it's not completely unusual. However, that would mean the team would no longer have to pay property taxes. That could put in danger about $3.8 million in county tax funds a year used for things such as education and libraries. The stadium is also the the City of Miami Gardens' top taxpayer.
Mayor Gimenez would approve a deal only if it didn't harm the budgets of the school board and Miami Gardens.
Gimenez, however, told the Herald that "it is a much better deal than" the public/private cofunding plan discussed last year.
Ross is eager to get the work done because Super Bowl applications are due in August. Miami, tied with New Orleans, has hosted the Super Bowl more than any other area but has been shut out in recent years. NFL execs have pretty much flat out said Miami wouldn't see another Super Bowl without stadium upgrades. The last Super Bowl in Miami was held in 2010.
Host cities for future Super Bowls have been determined through 2017. Miami is not a finalist to host the 2018 game either, which means that even with the renovations, Miami might not see another Super Bowl until at least 2019.
Ross unveiled an ambitious campaign last year to secure public funds for half of the planned $400 million upgrade. With public outrage over the Marlins' stadium deal still simmering, the plan went absolutely nowhere with either the public, local government, or up in Tallahassee. In fact, the political plan died during last year's legislative session. At the time, the Dolphins said they would not pay for the full cost of the renovations.
Here, in case you're wondering, is an image and details of what the plans for the renovations called for in 2010.