Friday, May 3, 2013

Fins 'deeply disappointed' by lawmakers' decision


After revamping the roster and overhauling their look, the Miami Dolphins hoped to continue their brand refresh by upgrading their stadium. And the team hoped to secure some public funding to help fund the renovations.

Those hopes are now dead after the proposed stadium bill was blocked by the Florida state legislature on Friday, according to a report by The Miami Herald. (photo: Bob B. Brown, Flickr)

The lawmakers neglected to vote on the bill before the conclusion of the legislative session, preventing it from reaching a public vote and extinguishing any chances of the Dolphins getting public money for the project.

The renovations were widely believed to be vital to the 25-year-old venue getting consideration for future Super Bowls as well as other major sporting events.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who pushed for the proposal with the voracity of a political campaign, expressed his disappointment after the session ended without a vote.

"I am deeply disappointed by the Speaker's decision [to end the session without a vote]," Ross told the media. "The Speaker single-handedly put the future of Super Bowls and other big events at risk for Miami-Dade and for all of Florida."

The team was seeking up to $289 million in public monies for the renovation project, which carried an overall cost estimated to be $350-400 million. The funds were to be raised via an increased hotel tax, a charge largely paid by non-residents.

Now the economic boons brought by Super Bowls, major college football games and other events are at risk for the region. Sun Life Stadium is an aging facility, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has all but stated that Miami would be awarded no more Super Bowls until the venue is improved.

Miami was a finalist for both the 50th and 51st Super Bowls, but now those events are expected to go to other cities with newer stadiums.

Ross will still attempt, however futile, to win the Super Bowl bids for his stadium.

"In the weeks ahead, I will do all I can to convince my fellow owners to bring the Super Bowl back to Miami-Dade," Ross said.

Another indirect benefit to the upgrades is the security of the Dolphins in South Florida. Ross has never explicitly suggested that he would sell or move the team without bill passing, but the political struggles in the area could entice Ross to consider any number of locations that would love an NFL franchise.

Hypothetically, the team could still follow through with the renovation plans, it would just need private funds to do so. With Ross' net worth clocking in upwards of $5 billion, the real estate mogul would have little trouble financing the project himself.

But it would not be an investment to Ross; the prime benefit to the plan was the economic impact it would have on the area, not direct profit to the team.

Undoubtedly, both parties will lose out in the long run by the project not getting done. The political and financial struggles have put the short-term -- and perhaps long-term -- future of football in the area in flux.

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