Sun Life Stadium renovation deal is missing one key term

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Next month, voters in Miami-Dade County will determine the fate of a proposed renovation to Sun Life Stadium.  If more who show up at the polls check “yes” than “no,” tax rates for local hotels will increase from six percent to seven percent, and up to $289 million in public money would be devoted to the project over the next 26 years.

The Dolphins will be making plenty of concessions in return, including a 30-year commitment to South Florida.

The Miami Herald breaks down the key terms of the 80-page agreement between the team and county.  But there’s one important term on which the public powers-that-be should have insisted.

If/when owner Stephen Ross sells the Dolphins and the stadium in which they play, Ross necessarily will receive more money than he otherwise would have gotten, thanks to the ability to hand off to the next owner an improved stadium that has returned to the Super Bowl rotation.  A slice of that profit, whatever it may be, fairly should go back to Miami-Dade County.  (As written, the deal merely requires payment of a $20 million “penalty” by Ross, if he sells within the next five years.  That’s less than seven percent of the total public contribution.)

Sharing in sale profits represents the easiest path around the ban on giving partial ownership of the team to a public body.  The value of the franchise necessarily will increase as a result of the investment of taxpayer money.  When Ross cashes out, a fair piece of the cash pie should go back to the taxpayers.

In theory, other terms in the deal between the Dolphins and Miami-Dade County will ensure that the citizens receive fair return on the investment of money that largely will be paid by visitors to the area, in the form of higher hotel bills.  But it would make much more sense for those making a major capital investment in the franchise and its stadium to get a slice of the proceeds coming from the inevitable sale of the assets that taxpayer money will be making more valuable.

While it’s too late for Miami-Dade County to include that term in the Dolphins’ deal, public entities that are being squeezed for taxpayer money in the future should make the case for sharing in the enhanced profits that the taxpayer money will eventually help the local NFL owner realize.

8 responses to “Sun Life Stadium renovation deal is missing one key term

  1. It would be nice if that money literally ever would go back to the taxpayers, but I’m positive it won’t. Governments can always find a use for OPM. They’ll say it’s “going back to the taxpayers” by diverting it into some other places they want it to go then telling the taxpayers it “saved them money” because they didn’t have to raise taxes to cover those things(that probably weren’t necessary to fund in the first place).

  2. Why renovate? In 10 years they will want a new stadium.

    Just build a new stadium next door, in the parking lot ala Shea to Citi Field.

  3. Stirring it up early on a Sunday morning. Roger Goodell will deal with you harshly. How dare you ask billionaires for money.

  4. Why do you say that, Mike? Based on your way of thinking ANY team with a stadium renovation should have the same provision. You don’t think the Colts are more valuable with their new stadium than before? Should Irsay decide to sell the taxpayers deserve a slice of that profit? I don’t think so! Where do you draw the line?

  5. The Phins will still not sellout games with or without renovations. Why would anyone want to buy season tickets from a team where the ticket office does not do a credible job in relocating season seats every off season?

  6. Why should Miami-Dade tax payers get a slice of the profit when the project will be paid for by visitors staying in the hotels?

  7. I am a Marlins and Dolphins fan so after the Marlins stadium debacle I was sincerely against giving the Dolphins money for this. After reading about the agreement I think this is an amazing deal for both sides. The city of Miami has protected themselves in many different ways and have basically forced the Dolphins to make many concessions that no other team has ever made.

    This deal is nothing like the Marlins deal and I think it is fair.

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