The Miami Dolphins will pay for a local referendum, if the state allows it, for Miami-Dade County voters to decide if hotel bed taxes can be used to help pay for renovations at Sun Life Stadium, the team's chief executive officer announced Friday..
Dolphins CEO Mike Dee made the announcement during a meeting with the Latin Builders Association in Medley.
"We've come to the Latin Builders Association today to say we going to step up and reimburse the county for any costs associated with this election," said Dee. "We think it's the right thing to do if the state allows for it."
"I intend to have the Dolphins, if we get to an election, for them to pay for the election," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Gimenez wrote a letter to Maria Mathews, the director of Florida's Division of Elections, asking whether the county can require the Dolphins to pre-pay the cost of the referendum election.
"I do not believe... that taxpayers of Miami-Dade County should be forced to shoulder the costs (estimated between $3-5 million) of this election brought about by a request from a private party," wrote Gimenez. "I therefore intend to require the Miami Dolphins organization to pay for the costs of such an election."
"Listen, we're laying it on the line here with the commitment that we made yesterday, predicating this on a Super Bowl and the announcement today that we're willing to step up and reimburse for the costs of a referendum," said Dee.
Bernie Navarro, the president of the Latin Builders Association, said he's watching the Dolphins' plans closely.
"We saw this movie once," he said. "The movie was the Marlins and we backed the Marlins and at the end of the day, the jobs didn't come to this community."
READ: Letter to Maria Mathews
During a news conference with the South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee on Thursday, the Dolphins offered to allow the county to opt-out of its referendum, assuming it passes, if the team failed to receive Super Bowls L or LI.
The Dolphins are competing against the San Francisco 49ers to host Super Bowl L in 2016. The loser will compete against the Houston Texans to host Super Bowl LI in 2017.
The NFL is expected to announce where Super Bowl L will be played on May 22.
Dolphins management as well as other South Florida backers contend that $400 million worth of renovations to Sun Life Stadium will help the area in an effort to lure the Super Bowl for its 50th anniversary. But the renovations will also benefit the University of Miami Hurricanes and could help the state lure international soccer games. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wants to use state and local dollars to help pay for the renovations.
Senate Bill 306 is contingent upon a favorable vote by Miami-Dade voters to also raise the local bed tax levy by one cent. The legislation has already passed through four of seven Florida legislative committees.
In an effort to sway some critics, the stadium bill has been changed to require a local referendum before local hotel bed taxes from Miami-Dade County can be used to help pay for the renovations.
The committee also announced all Super Bowl-related activities would be held in downtown Miami instead of Miami Beach, where the festivities have been held in the past.