The Miami Dolphins want to get South Florida back into the Super Bowl rotation. To make that happen, Sun Life Stadium needs to be upgraded. To make that happen, the Dolphins need (or at least want) public money.
So what happens if a public referendum tentatively planned for May 14 results in a “no” vote?
Owner Stephen Ross told Pro Football Talk last month in Arizona that the Dolphins won’t be moving, which necessarily reduces his leverage. But if he fails to secure partial public cooperation to improve a stadium that was built with private money more than 25 years ago, some think Ross will at least consider selling the team.
And if the sells the team, the next buyer could be less committed to keeping the Dolphins in Miami.
The other alternative would be for Ross to simply fund the renovations without public money. By blinking, however, Ross and the NFL would be setting a horrible precedent for any future efforts by other teams to finagle public money.
The easiest long-term solution would be for folks in Miami-Dade County to support the referendum. The small increase in hotel taxes would result in a stadium that would attract Super Bowls and other events that would drive plenty of money into the region.
Despite any philosophical concerns about the use of taxpayer money to subsidize billionaires, billionaires always have options. For Stephen Ross, one or more of those options could lead to the Dolphins leaving town.