Miami Dade County Community Forum

Thursday, January 7, 2010

We will not fund another sports stadium...or will we?

Hear this Rodney Barreto: You might want to find money elsewhere for the make-over of Dolphins Land Shark Stadium. A quick polling of friends of UEL, tells us this scheme to get MORE taxpayer handouts for yet another stadium is not going to fly.

Reprint from the:
South Florida Business Journal - January 6, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 5:15pm EST | Modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 5:37pm
Stadium upgrades needed to grab future Super Bowls

South Florida Business Journal - by Bill Frogameni
The Miami Dolphins would like to upgrade their stadium, and taxpayers might help foot the bill.

The Dolphins are set to host a Jan. 7 press conference to discuss renovating the 22-year-old Land Shark Stadium to ensure that the Super Bowl and other large-scale sporting events continue coming to South Florida. The region hosts the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 for a record 10th time.

The stadium upgrades, which would likely include a roof and seating closer to the field, could be partially paid for using public money, said Rodney Barreto, chairman of the South Florida Super Bowl XLIV Host Committee.

Barreto, who recently met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Dolphin’s owner Stephen Ross, said the consensus is that South Florida wouldn’t see another Super Bowl until the stadium gets a makeover.

The NFL wants to avoid fans getting drenched again as was the case when a rainstorm put a damper on the 2007 Super Bowl, he said.

“After halftime, the stadium was kind of empty – and it showed on TV,” Barreto said. “I think that was very displeasing to them.”

Miami lost to New Orleans in its bid to host the 2013 game, he added.

A Dolphins spokesman declined to comment in advance of the press conference.
But, Barreto and others are leaving open the possibility that tapping public money may be one way to upgrade the stadium.

“I think we need to look at all potential options, including the public-private option,” he said. “I think everything should be on the table.”

It’s still an open question where the money would come from and exactly how much would be needed.

Bruce Colan, chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and a member of the host committee’s executive board, said it would be best not to tap general revenue funds. Tourism bed taxes or creating a special taxation district may better solution, he said. Another possibility is to look to the state, he suggested.

“Over the years, stadiums have been getting better and better,” Colan said. “Our stadium is 22 years old. It’s no longer state of the art.”

But, for those who worry about money being diverted from other key drivers of tourism – such as the Miami Beach Convention Center, which is in the process of renovating – the stadium should not be considered any more important, Colan said.

“[The stadium] is something that is important to the community,” he said. “At the same time, the convention center is very important, and we need to find a way to do both.”

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  1. Outrageous. We should actively oppose more of this ridiculous mockery of taking public money for private interests.

  2. I'll be for it before I'm against it:

    First of all, from Philoctetes: comment in the Herald...
    Hey, how about getting another Real Estate Bubble? Just like the occasional Super Bowl, an R.E.B. spurts money at us every blue moon, followed by, um, a slow period. Sure, an R.E.B. sucks up resources that any healthy economy would spend more wisely. But R.E.B.s--just like Super Bowls--get us on TV!

    It's important not just to "relish and crave" these spurts, like Commissioner Grossman, but also to fear losing them, like [attorney] Bruce Jay Colan. Imagine what Miami would be like without Super Bowls, or Real Estate Bubbles?

    We could descend to the depths of cities like New York or San Francisco, cities that deal every day with the crushing boredom of strong real estate markets and consistent hotel occupancy. It's clear that these cities lack the courage of our political leaders, who fearlessly jump on the Boom and Bust Rollercoaster for one more ride. Wheeeeee!


    I'll be against it in the NEXT post!

  3. Hey, enough of being on the defensive. Let's propose where we SHOULD spend millions of dollars. I propose the following slogan:

    Northwest Seventh Avenue FIRST!

    The next place to get fixed up in Miami-Dade County should be NW 7 Ave. Why? Because it's been treated like a toilet for decades. Need an alternate for I-95 traffic? Dump it on 7th Avenue. High-tension power lines? NW 7 Avenue. Businesses need a free-wheeling zoning-code-free-zone, with out-of-spec parking lots, no street trees, cracked sidewalks and more? Why not put it on the same thoroughfare that used to be the main shopping street for adjacent minority neighborhoods: NW 7 Avenue.

    As Overtown was the sacrificial lamb of expressway construction in the 1960's, so 7th Avenue has been the dumping ground for the 70's, 80's and today!

    In my neighborhood we're fighting FPL's horrible plan to put giant transmission lines through Downtown Kendall and neighboring streets. How much MORE FUN would it be to TEAR DOWN the poles and BURY the lines along NW 7 Avenue? Sure, we could build shiny new pedestrian zones in the suburbs and hope people walk there, but why not PUT BACK the vital streetscape that used to be on NW 7 Avenue? Bullet train to Orlando? We can afford bus shelters on NW 7 Avenue.

    So, I'm proposing that every time someone mounts another hare-brained way for us to spend our money, we should repeat this mantra:

    "Did we fix Northwest 7th Avenue yet?"

    Any doubts about this? Drive 7th Avenue from the Miami River north.

    Let's do NW 7 Avenue FIRST.


  4. I read this morning that Barreto might want to do a special taxing district around the stadium. Barbara Jordan do you have ears? Is that Shirley Gibson's City? SHE WOULD NEVER LET IT HAPPEN!!!

  5. Bob FlandersJanuary 08, 2010

    RE: Stadium upgrades needed to grab future Super Bowls

    No - read below, from Robert A. Flanders

    Dolphins to seek $250m for stadium upgrades

    Other shoe: dropped.

    Only months after Miami-Dade commissioners agreed to borrow $490 million for a new Florida Marlins baseball stadium, local leaders and the Miami Dolphins are contemplating a push to seek public money to help fund $250 million in renovations to the football venue.

    If you've read economist Phil Porter's work before, you'll know that the only way Miami makes back $250 million landing additional Super Bowls (which is the goal of the renovations — apparently at the last one held there, some fans got wet when it rained) is if Peyton Manning leaves his wallet lying around. If there's a silver lining here, it's that the money might be taken from convention center hotel funding, which is a similarly terrible idea.

    And hey, speaking of Porter, here he is in the Miami Herald story on the Dolphins' demands:

    Philip Porter, an economics professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, said a Super Bowl amounts to a fiscal blip for large economies. That's particularly true for popular winter tourism destinations like South Florida, which can count on packed hotels in February even without a Super Bowl.
    "If you wanted economic impact, you'd do a lot better taking the money you would spend on a stadium and drop it out of a helicopter," he said.

    That's a good point, and — hey, waitaminnit. Helicopter? Allen Sanderson, call your trademark attorney!

    Posted by Neil deMause in Miami Dolphins | comments (0) | permalink

  6. Posted on Saturday, 01.09.10
    Raindrops keep falling on NFL dunderheads

    As Super Bowl XLIV approaches, the National Football League has delivered a not-so-sporting message to hosting South Floridians: Bend over.

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell warned local officials that this might be the last Super Bowl game held at Dolphin Stadium unless the facility is refurbished at a cost of $250 million, give or take.

    Although the league is wallowing in profits, it has no intention of bankrolling the renovations. The Dolphins haven't said how much, if any, the team would contribute.

    Most likely, the money would have to come from public funds, possibly hotel bed taxes collected in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

    It's old-fashioned extortion, but the NFL has no shame. You'd have better luck negotiating with the Gambino family.

    Forget the recession. Forget the fact that our boneheaded politicians just committed $490 million to a new baseball park that is doomed to be a budgetary suckhole for decades.

    And forget the fact that the football stadium was renovated just a few years ago for $200 million-plus, and that the Dolphins admit they don't need any upgrades for regular-season games.

    Mr. Goodell is a fussy fellow. He would like swankier skyboxes and new hi-def lighting, please. He would also like an expanded roof on the stadium to prevent raindrops from dampening the festivities.

    Some members of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee say that sprucing up the place at public expense is a worthy investment. We are told that the 2007 Super Bowl brought $463 million to South Florida -- an outlandish estimate.

    Now we know what happened to Ricky Williams' old stash: The league's accountants are smoking it.

    Virtually every independent economic study, including one by the Florida Senate in 2005, has shown that publicly funded sports stadiums are a rotten deal for taxpayers.

    Philip Porter, an economics professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, said that having an occasional Super Bowl in a major winter tourist destination such as Miami amounts to basically a hiccup.

    ``If you wanted economic impact,'' he told The Herald, ``you'd do a lot better taking the money you would spend on a stadium and drop it out of a helicopter.''

    The boondoggle is still in the larval stage, and last week Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said it's premature to speculate how the renovations would be financed.

    He said, ``We're going to see if there is an appetite in this try and get this done.''

    There's no community appetite -- only nausea at the prospect of another tax gouge by a sports franchise. That's why this stadium scam will never appear on a ballot. Voters would sack it with a vengeance. Public input is the last thing the NFL wants. It's easier to go behind closed doors with pliable politicians.

    Already some of them are in a dither after Goodell's threat to exclude South Florida from future Super Bowls.

    Think of how absurd that would be. This year is the 10th time in its history that the big game will be played in the Miami area -- more than any other city.

    The reason is simple: There's no better place in February to be.

    Some surmise that Goodell is grumbling about Dolphin Stadium just to squeeze a fatter offer from South Florida for future Super Bowls.


  7. Every city seeking to host the championship must submit a bid that includes plenty of discounts, freebies and perks. For instance, in its successful quest for the 2010 game, Miami organizers offered the use of private yachts to all 32 NFL team owners.

    (Because of the wheezing economy, the millionaires' flotilla has been prudently replaced by fishing expeditions for inner-city kids).

    If Goodell is bluffing about the stadium just to jack up Miami's next Super Bowl bid, that's one thing. But if he's seriously considering blackballing Dolphin Stadium as a host site, we can only conclude that he's been moonlighting as a test dummy in the league's full-contact concussion studies.

    Still, based on recent history, there's good reason to worry that local leaders will surrender to the NFL's clumsy arm-twisting. If that happens, they deserve an angry flogging by fed-up voters.

    Any officeholder who feels inclined to waste tax dollars on another stadium makeover should take a cue from The Who, the iconic rock band that will perform at this year's Super Bowl halftime.

    Don't get fooled again.

  8. Cerabino: Billionaire Miami Dolphins boss needs bailout

    Palm Beach Post

    Hurray! We're finally getting to change the subject from all those sick, unemployed, uninsured people who need health care.

    I was getting so tired of all that socialism.

    So it came as a breath of fresh air to hear that South Florida taxpayers need to support their underprivileged National Football League team by paying for a round of stadium improvements.

    It turns out that Dolphin Stadium, which will host its league-leading 10th Super Bowl next month, isn't a suitable spot for the Super Bowl.

    Bad lighting. Inferior seating. And no roof in case it rains on Super Bowl Sunday.

    Only $242 million in net revenue

    At least, that's what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. Naturally, the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee is already drawing up stadium improvement plans and looking at taxpayer money to foot the bill.

    "We need to get an indication from government officials, both locally and from the state of Florida, if this is doable," said Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Rodney Barretto.

    It's too bad that recently inconvenienced committee member Scott Rothstein is in jail, because I'm guessing a good Ponzi scheme could have done the job.

    Anyway, it's fitting that we look toward public money at the local and state levels to support the Dolphins, which is only the 18th-most valuable franchise in the richest sports league in America.

    The team made only $242 million last year in net stadium revenue, according to Forbes magazine, and its debt-to-value ratio is a meager 39 percent.

    The team's owner, billionaire real estate investor Stephen Ross, is so desperate that he has taken to selling small pieces of the team to practically any celebrity who spends a night on South Beach.

    How J.Lo can we go?

    So don't think of handing out public money to the Dolphins as socialism for billionaires.

    Think of it as a way to prevent the future J.Lo-ization of your hometown football franchise.

    If we don't all pitch in, one day you're gonna find Kid Rock, a cast member from the MTV reality show Jersey Shore, or one of the Lohans dressed in a Jason Taylor jersey and waving from the owner's box. And you're gonna say, "We had a chance to stop this!"

    Or consider the public bailout of Dolphin Stadium as charity to an orphan.

    That's right. Dolphin Stadium's been hustled around like some corporate foster kid with more name changes than Liza Minnelli. After starting as Joe Robbie Stadium, it has become Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium and most recently Land Shark Stadium, in a brief marriage to a celebrity beer that began in May and ended Wednesday night.

    Word is, the stadium's going to be named after an insurance company next.

    So it makes sense that we all pay for the stadium's preexisting condition.

    Remember, it's socialism only when poor people get government assistance.