Stephen Ross calls out Florida Speaker of the House

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Dolphins owner Stephen Ross isn’t happy with the failure of the Florida Legislature to give citizens in the Miami area the ability to vote on a hotel tax increase that would have helped fund upgrades at Sun Life Stadium.

To his credit, Ross isn’t biting his tongue.  He’s unloading on the man Ross deems directly responsible for the failure of the Legislature to pass a bill that would have allowed the May 14 public vote in Miami-Dade County:  Speaker of the House Will Weatherford.

“Speaker Weatherford did far more than just deny the people of Miami Dade the right to vote on an issue critical to the future of our local economy,” Ross said in a statement issued by the Dolphins.  “The Speaker singlehandedly put the future of Super Bowls and other big events at risk for Miami Dade and for all of Florida.  He put politics before the people and the 4,000 jobs this project would have created for Miami Dade, and that is just wrong.”

Ross is right.  This is something the people should have decided.  But Weatherford didn’t even give the House of Representatives a chance to vote on the bill that would have given the people the chance to vote.

“He gave me and many others his word that this legislation would go to the floor of the House for a vote, where I know, and he knows, we had the votes to win by a margin as large as we did in the Senate,” Ross said.  “It’s hard to understand why he would stop an election already in process and disenfranchise the 40,000 people who have already voted.  I can only assume he felt it was in his political interest to do so.  Time will tell if that is the case, but I am certain this decision will follow Speaker Weatherford for many years to come.”

Though it would perhaps be too easy and obvious to point to Weatherford’s residence in the Tampa area, which could fill Miami’s void in the Super Bowl rotation, as the primary reason for the decision to drag his feet on the bill, in politics the easy and obvious reasons usually are the accurate ones.

99 responses to “Stephen Ross calls out Florida Speaker of the House

  1. Isn’t there that whole issue of matching funds? I could be wrong but isn’t the state of Florida responsible for a big chunk of building the stadium? So even if only the Miami-Dade voters vote for this everyone else in the state is responsible for it as well. As a Tampa resident I’m hoping there is an unknown earthquake fault that will send all Miami-Dade into the Atlantic — I don’t want to be paying for their stadiums when the Rays need a need stadium which no one is willing to pay for.

    If I’m wrong about the funding, oh well — the comments story of isn’t the place you should be learning facts anyways.

  2. Stephen Ross should just pay for the upgrades himself. He will get the money back over the next ten years.

  3. Sunlife stadium has more reported incidents between fans and security than any other stadium in the league. Miami Dade is a cesspool of a city, who’s residents lead such miserable lives, that they actually stand outside the Dolphins facility and picket the GM. That city does not deserve a football team anymore. Let them have the Heat. Bring the Dolphins to LA.

  4. All politics is local. Either Tampa or Miami would get a crack at a Super Bowl in the near future. Not both.

    You’re gonna need a new stadium if you want to host a Super Bowl in the next 5 – 8 years though.

  5. Ross needs to learn a couple lessons in politics:

    One, you’re now permanently screwed with the Speaker & his allies.

    Two, there’s always next year. It’ll be here sooner than you think & instead of having folks get to the Speaker quietly to start pushing him for a vote at the beginning of the next Session, you’ve dumped that opportunity.

    Hire a good lobbyist.

  6. Net Worth of $4.4 billion and wants a handout? Lets raise taxes on people coming to Florida so I can make more money. If you can’t afford it or don’t want to pay for it, sell the team to someone that can. It’s that the free market republicans are always talking about?

  7. Pardon me for what may be an ignorant post, but if Ross is so concerned about the jobs in Miami and Dade County, why doesn’t he use some of his personal multi-billion dollar wealth and pay for the upgrades himself? Sounds like that would be a win-win for everyone involved.

  8. I have to agree with Ross! Since when is Government taken the right to Vote away from the People.

    “– and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” ABRAHAM LINCOLN

  9. lol. Raymond James Stadium was built with the same type of tax the Dolphins were looking for. No wonder Ross is fired up.

  10. Yes, billionaires really do need help from the taxpayers. A sad day indeed……..

  11. So, a 4.4 Billionaire is upset that the common people will not have to pay for upgrades to his newest toy? Boo Hoo Stephen Ross.

  12. Weatherford should be investigated. Sounds like his is not allowing people of Miami Dade their voting and democratic rights. Maybe a class action civil suit and violations of the Florida constitution might wake this rogue politician up.

  13. I am shocked a politician lying to his voters sounds like this guy is a scumbag to me the people voted for him they should also be the ones voting on this too another example of more government is not good

  14. Right on Mike. I’m still baffled at how the state government can take away the the people’s right to decide. Even if this is the worst deal in the world, the majority will see that and vote accordingly.

    Normally I think you are too cynical, but when it comes to politics, there is no such thing, and you just might be onto something with Weatherford’s residence being in Tampa. Either way, the government is supposed to serve the people, not the other way around.

  15. Ross is a billionaire welfare queen and should shut his trap. Kudos to the Speaker for protecting the taxpayers from this extortion. If Ross wants to improve his stadium, he should do it the same way every other for profit business does, by investing his own money in the project.

  16. Focus on the product on the field, Ross, not the worth of your “holdings”. The Dolphins have done nothing of note for decades now and furthermore, when they did win in the past their home stadium was a crumbling dump. The building is not even 30 years old and it’s already been renovated. Pony up the dough yourself or shut up, the trend of wealthy sports owners holding cities and states hostage over these idiotic stadium schemes has to stop.

  17. Politicians. Just like the NYC West Side Stadium for the Jets. If (James Dolan) greases the right palms, the people don’t get their say on the matter.

    Instead of greasing palms, TB Glazed them.

  18. So we’re supposed to feel bad for a multi-millionaire?

    Do. Not. Care.

  19. Waaaaaahhhhh…. I’m a billionaire and I want everyone else to give me more money. People who struggle to feed their kids and work for a living, who have to worry about real bills, they should be forced to pay for my toys in the form of increased taxes. Do these greedy billionaires have any shame at all? Welfare for the rich needs to end and it looks like America is finally waking up to that fact.

  20. I hate when billionaires get pissed that they have to spend their own money instead of the taxpayers money. I mean god forbid they let tax payer money go to useless things like education….

  21. So he would rather the ower of the team/stadium pay for their own stuff? For shame… Four thousand jobs created for tax payer money….And increasing the cost of hotel stays in a city that relies on tourism….

  22. As for the “4,000 jobs”, give me a break. Open a Starbucks and you’ll create a couple dozen jobs. Does that mean the taxpayer should pay for that too?

  23. Well, at least Ross now has some perspective of how all those orange seats feel about him and his general manager.

    I wonder if he’ll fly a banner over the state capital to protest……

  24. …………oh, and that thunderous noise you hear is Tony Sparano getting the last laugh.

  25. Hey Stephen, you were going to lose anyways. But you could always fork over some of your 4.4 billion to pay for the upgrades.

  26. Asshats in Congress won’t even pay for Meals on Wheels with the sequester and he wants public funding for a stadium?

  27. Sto being ignorant people! Ross IS payin for 70% of the cost of the upgrades. All he is askimg for is a hotel tax,paid by mostly tourists,to fund the other 30%. The county,and tje state will reap some of the benefits,including monetary. If Ross did pay 100% of it he would not reap 100% of the rewards. He is beimg too nice. Nice guys finish last. He should have threatened to move the team, just like the falcons owner did to get a 1.5 billion dollar stadium built by 2017.

  28. I love the people who comment without knowing the details of the story

    All Ross wanted was a vote, not a handout. If it got voted down, so be it. But why not let it go to a vote? What harm is there in that? The state senate voted to let it go to a vote. Let the people decide what they want in their city!! And how they want their local economy dollars to be spent. “For the people, By the people”

  29. If the folks in Miami are so stoked for this, just pass the hat for donations. I’m sure they’d be *so* thrilled to kick in money from their own pockets for a change.

  30. So lets see. People are saying they have been disenfranchised because they were not allowed to vote on raising taxes on those who do not have a vote in the matter (hotel guests). Sounds more like taxation without representation. Guess the tourist industry has more juice than Ross.

  31. If the Dolphins make money, Ross keeps it. If the stadium makes money (also owned by Ross), Ross keeps it. Privately owned team, privately owned stadium (built that way because the Legislature and local politicians kept jerking the late Joe Robbie around, everyone looking for their kickback), privately owned profit when the team/stadium makes money–so precisely why should the stadium improvements be publicly financed?

    That said, the behavior of the Speaker was the usual corrupt, my-word-is-golden-if-you-provide-the-gold actions of the typical Southern politico. The Dolphins, their fans and organization, and Ross were foolish to believe anything coming out of the man’s mouth. The only way to deal with this kind of lowlife is to grease his palm–or lube another part of his body.

  32. The right to vote is very important, indeed. However, is it proper to vote on every issue? If the U.S. held a referendum to abolish all income taxes, it would probably pass with flying colors. No matter how many people support that change, would it be a good idea to stop all government funding by doing this?

    How would we pay for defense, infrastructure, etc.? Just as much legislation appears to be extraneous, so may be the voting on every single issue.

  33. many posters here are missing the point.the people of miami-dade should without a doubt be allowed to say yes or no with thier votes not have thier minds made up for them by the speaker of the state house or anyone else for that matter anyone here or anywhere else who disagrees with this is does not belong living in a FREE democratic nation and does not believe in a goverenment that is suppose to be BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE. it don’t matter if you hate ross or the fins or you are on the welfare for billionaire bandwagon ther is a much bigger side to this than stadium funding if you are an american at all you should take offense to this sort of action by any elected offical.

  34. I don’t know why everything “needs” to be votes on directly by the people via referendum. We elected officials to make tough votes, not say “you know, this is too hard a decision, let’s punt it” whenever something difficult comes up.

  35. i watched the vikings stadium drama unfold for months, and i find it hard to believe that any referendum would pass in regards to public tax money getting used to upgrade or build a new stadium, no matter where in the country it might be. i guess we’ll never know how the public might have voted should it have gotten to that point.

  36. Normally, I’d agree with the majority here and oppose corporate welfare, but in this case I make an exception. This bill would have allowed the citizens of Miami to decide this issue. They can always vote no to the tax increase. If for whatever crazy reason they voted yes then who are we to judge. I mean this is the way that it should be with politics. Let the people decide.

    Now if this tax increase was approved in some back room deal between Ross and politicians then I would oppose it. But instead, at least according to this article, it’s something that the citizens of Miami would have gotten a chance to vote on. So if that’s the case, then that’s the way it should be even if for whatever crazy reason they voted for the tax increase.

  37. Stephen Ross is nothing but an entitled welfare queen. Ross is no different than a single mother having an extra kid to up her benefits- except Ross is asking for soooooo much more.

    If Ross wants money for free- someone should teach him how to do it appropriately. Take an empty cup and stand by the entrance of a store and look really sad- keep practicing- I am sure Ross can become a panhandling expert in no time.

  38. It’s time for Stephen Ross to handle this political setback the old fashioned American way …

    Next year, just shell out several million to buy Ross’ seat and give it to someone who will do what you tell them to do.

  39. Hey Florio – you state … “Ross is right. This is something the people should have decided. But Weatherford didn’t even give the House of Representatives a chance to vote on the bill that would have given the people the chance to vote.”

    When the MN politicians stuffed the new stadium down the taxpayers throats, I don’t recall you making any statement in favor of letting the people decide. So Florio, who you crappin’!!!!

  40. If Ross wants a little funding to help pay for the renovations, he should grab a saxophone or a harmonica and stand out in front of the stadium with a tin cup.

    I’m sure the six remaining Miami Dolphins fans will gladly toss a quarter in there.

    Subsidizing billionaires has to stop. The idea of public funding in any capacity for this project is completely insane and is not worthy of being put to vote. Owning an NFL team is a unique enterprise and with it comes unique costs. Pay for it yourself or get out.

    And can someone please explain to me how it is that these uber-rich republicans are always against hand outs, unless of course it’s for them?

    Stephen Ross called out the Speaker of the House. Well, I’m calling out Stephen Ross: Go “F” yourself and sell the team to someone who’s not a total embarrassment.

  41. Good for the Speaker of the Florida House to stand against corporate welfare for billionaires. At least somebody has some sense in the state of Florida.

    The disaster of Jeffrey Loria might actually be a good thing for Florida taxpayers — clearly demonstrating why public money shouldn’t be given to billionaires.

  42. I’m trying to understand all this, so someone with better knowledge of the situation than me (which is just about everyone) feel free to chime in, but would ALL the revenue from said hotel tax be going to renovating the stadium?

    If so, i can probably see why some would be against it. Ok, so it would make Miami/Dade more likely to get a Super Bowl or Super Bowls.

    But i’m sure Miami is quite popular for conventions, so what happens if, while they get a Super Bowl, other orgainizations that would bring hunddreds of thousands of conventioneers to town see “hotel tax” and decide to hold their conventions elsewhere? (and i say this knowing a lot cities have the same tax.)

    Im just saying that while they would gain the 100,000 visitors for one week every five years or so, what if they lose far more than that, even if it’s from the National Organization of Used Chevy Salesmen or something, they spend money too.

  43. Don’t know about this Ross fellow, but it is absurdly obvious that Florio votes the opposite of what ever party the Speaker is from, cause there’s no attempt to explain the opposing position.

    If you’re gonna drag politics in here Mike, You’d better call on both sides or risk losing a bunch of your readers.

  44. I am now a fan of the speaker. Good deal, hotel taxes should go to help the city and not some billionaires play toy. I am sick of these entitled owners getting over on the taxpayers. It’s fact that only a small percentage of the people like sports. Sure they may have a once a year redneck mudding event but they can have that anywhere.

  45. This would be a first for Weatherford. In 2007 he voted for baseball stadium funding that was worded to exclude the team in his home district.

  46. Will this stadium ONLY be used for Dolphins games, or will other uses occur, adding to the cities’ coffers by bringing people to town for college bowl games, concerts, etc, which the city gets money from in the way of extra visitors, taxes on services, fees, lots of ways.

  47. A billionaire asking for a social handout?

    Where’s the tea baggers when you need them?

  48. its likevery 1 has suttin to say bout the money then again half of u never been to florida so it shouldnt bother u/ n folks in florida who cares about n extra 3bucks to keep / if i was ross id pay for it n rub it in cuz no project can touch his pocket / n after we smash on teams this yr. n we prove to the nfl the next 10yrs solid r ours / he will do it…HEY NFL ..WERE BACK

  49. Let the NFL, owners and players pay for their own stadiums. They have jobs and make lots of money, and still cry like babies over bumps, stadiums and such.

  50. Ross has spent a fortune on lobbyists to lobby for the vote in Tallahassee and has been running TV ads for months trying to get Miami voters to agree with him. If he would have taken the money he spent on those things he probably could have saved as much as he is asking the county to kick in.

    It doesn’t matter anyway, the voters in miami-Dade would have voted it down by a large margin anyway.

    Hey, Ross, wipe that big L off your forehead, get a GM that knows what he is doing and start winning games.

  51. Making billionaires pay for their own stadiums that will generate revenue for them? Common sense.
    Having said owners be allowed to levy a tax so that the public has to pay for it? Why is that even an option?

  52. I work in the hotel industry and I don’t agree with taxing hotels for stadium upgrades. The only hotels that benefit from the stadium are the ones that are the closest to the stadium, meanwhile the entire city/county has to fund this upgrade.

    I know the hotel industry itself isn’t paying for it but in Columbus, Ohio we have a 16.75% hotel tax. So an $89 room rate comes out to $103.91 after tax. Miami relies on tourism and the tourists will go elsewhere if they feel the city is just trying to empty every dollar out of their pocket.

  53. It’s so sad that so many here are opposed to true democracy. If the people of Miami had voted for this then what’s the problem? I doubt the majority would have voted yes(looks like we’ll never know) but even if they had then so be it. That’s the way democracy should be, even if the result is some crazy tax hike on hotels. Let the people decide if they support a tax increase or not instead of leaving it up to the politicians.

  54. I honestly don’t see anything out of the norm here… Ross is just another billionaire NFL owner asking for public funds. The Jags and Bucs have done it… Hey the only difference is this Ross’s first time.

  55. When the owner of a professional sports franchise, a shopping mall, a Walmart, a concert venue, etc. is considering a development in a new city, they have tons of leverage within that city’s new jurisdiction to capitalize on massive tax breaks because cities understand the value that accompanies these types of ventures.

    It’s amazing that so many people are crucifying Ross here — who was already paying upwards of 70% of the total renovation costs — citing billionaire handouts… That is beyond absurd! Ask the mayor of ANY city that’s hosted a Super Bowl, how much estimated revenue that single event brings to town. It’s astronomical! Ross is not making anywhere near the money the Miami area would, were another Super Bowl to come to town, yet still absorbing most of the costs.

    It’s a win-win, but unfortunately Mr. Weatherford fails to see it that way. It’s no fluke that more than 93% of ALL sports stadiums in major cities are at least partially funded by public money.

  56. Why should Miami residents vote on a hotel tax increase? They aren’t the ones who would pay, I doubt they stay in hotels in their own city. Besides, if you have a sorry team you’re not going to give them a break until they deserve it.

  57. At some point the taxing of the tourists can only be pushed so much before people start vacationing or holding conferences in other States and Cities. Has anyone really looked at their hotel and car rental bill in some cities. The taxes are sometimes 3/4 as much as just the daily rental charge for a car.

  58. I’m not sympathetic to a billionaire looking for financial help from taxpayers or ordinary tourists, however, I do have faith in the democratic process and the voting public. Put it up for a vote. I think public debate and analysis would make it it quite clear what impacts to the state or to the county not upgrading the stadium would have versus the benefits. Most likely it wouldn’t pass and the owner would have to look for other means of funding and would have to adjust the project scope.

  59. This is NOT about Ross being a billionaire…If he wants the public to pay for the stadium, then the public should get part ownership, and PROFITS.

  60. Talk about a circus???? People say the jets are a circus, just do yourselves a favor and take a long look at this team.

  61. U guys ever go to Boston or Chicago and see their taxes for tourists
    Give us a fing break in fla.
    Are any if u aware that Disney world pays no taxes at all!!!
    Google that and see how u feel

  62. Taxing the tourism industry seems fair. Think of the infrastructure required to host the tens of people who travel in from out of town to see the Dolphins play each year, it must generate several dozens of dollars for the local economy when they play at home.

  63. Its kind of the way government works these days. The people don’t get a say (vote) on what or where your taxes go.

  64. Stephen Ross does not benefit in any way, shape or form to provide a venue for world class sporting events without local support. His field is one of the best in the country. It’s as fast as any turf without the injury concerns.

    His only obligation is to provide his team with the best possible conditions.

    Ross has already offered to give the stadium to the county but they declined because they couldn’t bare the expense or loss in property taxes.

    The clue train is leaving the station and I expect most of you to be on it.

  65. I would support public stadium funding if I saw a compelling analysis of the benefits to the public. Ross tossed out the number 4,000 for jobs created. That means nothing to me. Are they 4,000 long-term jobs, or will they go away once construction is finished? How much additional tax revenue will the public get from luxury suites and a Super Bowl? Hell, the Federal government will get more than Florida.

    How much new revenue will local businesses get as a result of the upgrades? Doubtful they see any unless there is a Super Bowl. It’s not like the upgrades will put more meat in the seats. Try winning a Super Bowl. That will increase your revenue. Maybe get home field advantage. Cha-Ching.

    I like a point that was made above. The owner and the public should benefit equally based on the amount invested. Anything less and it’s some SOB owner taking advantage of the rest of us.

  66. Dolphins should set up a kickstarter to help fund the stadium, then you will see if the fans want to sit in an upgraded stadium.

  67. First of all we live in a republic and not a democracy. Secondly, the stadium is privately owed and not taxpayer funded. He knew that when he bought the team. I’m quite certain he could arrange a loan thru the state that would need to be paid back by the profits the upgrades will net him. Lastly, I would agree with the notion of allowing the citizen’s of Miami to vote on a tax increase if it was coming out of their own pockets but that is not the case here. This tax would be leveled on everyone except those that actually voted on it. Should the state be expected to pay for upgrades at Disney because it could bring in more tourists to Orlando? How about Bush Garden’s in Tampa? NFL owners get money from TV as well as merchandizing, ticket sales, parking and concessions. They pull money in from all over the place. Why do they need taxpayer money also? A government by the people and for the people does not exist to provide updated sporting arena’s for a select few. People always seem to think tax increases to pay for this and that are great as long as they aren’t the ones getting taxed. Thank you for your time.

  68. Stephen Ross does not benefit from hosting Super Bowls, National Championship Games, or even big soccer games. Ross is not asking for a “hand-out”. Ross is asking the local government to raise the bed tax, in Miami-Dade County ONLY, by ONE percent(from 6% to 7%). Dolphins Stadium is privately owned, which is rare in Pro sports, and the big events that it hosts brings money to the community.

    For those saying that the increase in the bed tax would cause tourists not to go to Miami, ask yourself if having to pay 2 extra dollars on a hotel that is $200 a night will deter any tourists. Ask yourself if 1 extra dollar on a $100 hotel room will ruin the tourism in Miami-Dade County.

    For those pointing to Ross’ 4.4 Billion, I hope you realize that the 4.4 is EVERYTHING he owns, including the Dolphins (which he paid 1.1 Billion for), and that Ross does not make 4.4 Billion a year.

    Ross has already committed at least $200 million to the project. Over the next 10 years, will the Dolphins stadium influx >$200? The answer is yes.

    Nobody cares that the Miami Heat have an arena that benefits from LOCAL tax money, but the Dolphins want to tax TOURISTS and everyone in South Florida freaks out.

  69. Come on voters, help a brother out. A billion dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to. You want Ross to look foolish in front of his peers? Where’s the love?

  70. Will Weatherford definitely won’t be receiving any campaign contributions from Stephen Ross, but you can bet that his next opponent for any future elections surely will.

  71. The bill included $90,000,000 in state sales tax rebates for the Dolphins’ stadium renovation as well. The presence of state money in the deal is why the state had to approve putting the referendum before the Miami-Dade voters. If it had been solely city/county money, then there would not be a state requirement. Those harping on this being a local issue only are incorrect; involving state money makes it a state issue.

    Second, the electorate does get to vote–for the incumbent legislators or their opponents in deciding who should represent their interests in government. Don’t like how the representative votes on issues you care about? Vote ’em out. In this case, those legislators can read the polls that the people of Florida do not want to spend public money on a stadium, that the polls in the Miami area are uniformly anti-stadium funding, and that the representatives from the Miami area are also not all in favor of the funding. In seeing that, they see they are quite safe in killing the bill.

  72. Well if Ross does not pay up for the upgrades then just move the team to LA. Would love to see more Dolphins games out here in California.

  73. Ross should have been better friends with the governor. His friends get whatever they want in this state.

  74. The bill would’ve passed if put to a vote.
    At least they had time to raise their campaign contribution limits. That’s really important to business owners in South Florida.

    I blame it all on Jeffrey Loria.

  75. Guess what happens after all these public funds go to improving the stadium? Yep, u guessed it. Ross raises prices on everything and pockets the gold. I just want to thank u suckers who buy tickets to sporting events so I can watch them on my big screen at home.

  76. While I agree with you, Florio, that politics shouldn’t be put before people, I can’t stand when you proclaim that, “so-and-so is right.”

    You aren’t speaking to a TV audience on NBC or NFLN. You’re writing an editorial to people who will make their own decisions based on the facts available (and how they’re presented).

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