Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke comes to the defense of the Miami Dolphins.
I'm with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on this one. The county and state should give the team public funds to help defray the $400 million cost of upgrading Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins' home has done more to boost the local economy than the American Airlines Arena, the BB&T Center, and Marlins Park ever have.
This is a good investment that will generate money for the people. Every time Sun Life Stadium hosts the Orange Bowl, the BCS National Championship Game, the Super Bowl, and major international soccer matches, everybody gets paid, from police officers to cabbies to concierges to exotic dancers. What's more, Sun Life Stadium gets more use than the other three sports venues.
The University of Miami is a permanent tenant. The stadium hosts top-of-the-line soccer teams from around the world. Every one of those games sells out because South Florida has hundreds of thousands of Latin American fútbol fans. Sun Life is also the only place where a diverse variety of events can be staged -- from the Monster Jam truck show to the Jazz in the Gardens music festival.
We also have to give the Dolphins organization credit for investing money back into the community. The other sports franchises in the region -- the Miami Heat, the Miami Marlins, and the Florida Panthers -- do not invest as much in community outreach. The team has paid tens of thousands of dollars to renovate football fields at dozens of parks in Miami-Dade.
Three years ago, Ross, the Dolphins, and the NFL donated a $164,000 grant to Miami Beach Senior High to renovate its on-campus football and soccer practice field. The team also allows high schools to host football games at the stadium and share in the gate revenues.
We have yet to see the Marlins fulfill their promise of building and renovating youth baseball fields across Miami-Dade. And the only youth basketball gym involving the Heat is Alonzo Mourning's Overtown Youth Center. That's a damn shame when you consider the Heat is the most prominent basketball team in the NBA and is led by LeBron James, the most dominant player in the nation.
The Heat should be building basketball courts and gymnasiums throughout the county. And has the Heat ever hosted a local high school basketball game?
Sun Life Stadium is worth the money. Miami-Dade County just needs to make sure the Dolphins continue paying taxes to the City of Miami Gardens and that they guarantee minorities will get construction jobs for the renovation.
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