The Miami Dolphins have been seeking nearly $200 million in public money to help fund a $400 million renovation of SunLife Stadium as owner Stephen Ross wants to make a push to host Super Bowl L in 2016.
Ross had been reluctant to put the issue in front of the voters because he believed there wasn’t time for the process to occur before the NFL picked a host site for the Super Bowl. However, Ross has apparently relented and agreed to have the proposal presented as a referendum to the public according to the Miami Herald.
The league is expected to select the host site for Super Bowl L on May 22. The Dolphins are hoping to have the proposal presented to the voters by that date.
This deal would cap the public spending at no more than $199 million with Ross vouching to pay at least $201 million toward the project. Per the Herald, the public money would come via a $3 million state subsidy and a hike of the county tax on mainland hotels from 6 to 7 percent.
Ross was also likely hesitant to go to the voters due to the public still reeling from the $2.4 billion stadium built for the Miami Marlins that will cost Miami-Dade county $376.3 million alone. Following the animosity over the deal to fund the Marlins stadium and the city and county already on the hook for millions of dollars in stadium funding, Ross is likely facing a difficult battle to get the proposal approved by the voters.
The city of Seattle and state of Washington had helped to fund the construction of Safeco Field for the Mariners and CenturyLink Field for the Seahawks before the NBA and Seattle Supersonics owner Howard Schultz came asking for more public funds to upgrade KeyArena. Seattle residents had grown tired of funding buildings for wealthy ownerships and refused to agree to the proposal. The difference in Seattle was the Schultz led ownership group was only willing to contribute approximately 8 percent ($18 million) of a $220 million renovation proposal.
Schultz ultimately sold the team to an Oklahoma-based group led by Clay Bennett and the team moved to Oklahoma City a year later.
While Ross is willing to the pay the majority of the costs (and significantly more than the Supersonics ownership was willing to invest), trying to secure voter approval for the allocation of public funds after the building of Marlins Park could be an enormous challenge.