The hot button topic around town these days is whether or not Sun Life Stadium's $350 million renovations/upgrades should be subsidized using public taxes. Cutler Bay's Mayor Ed MacDougall has a very specific opinion: Absolutely NOT!
"It's not easy to understanding what is going on here. There is an 80-page report that explains it," MacDougall says, "but people are busy with their lives so I want to raise awareness before we have a 30 year deal we can't get out of."
Mayor MacDougall did just that. On April 24th, he held a town hall-style meeting in Council chambers hoping to enlighten the County residents and its officials. Unfortunately, the attendance was under 20 people and not a single media outlet from newspaper, radio or television bothered to come. In what is a sad sign of the times, people aren't aware of the impact that will likely result if this project moves forward.
From Mayor Ed MacDougall's standpoint, the request from Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross is an over-simplified version of a very troubling story. Ross contends he wants $350 million to renovate the stadium and in return he won't move the Dolphins for 30 years. "But that's not an accurate picture," says MacDougall, "There are unfair items that would hurt taxpayers and business in unseen ways."
MacDougall has been to Tallahassee to drum up opposition to the project, once traveling with Norman Braman, who years ago owned an NFL team. "Norm opposes this and sees this from a unique perspective. He sees this as a way for Ross to 'own a fine piece of art without paying for it.'"
"The deal would mean throughout most of Miami-Dade County there would be a 1% increase on hotel bed tax and the Dolphins would be refunded the taxes collected on goods sold at the stadium for 30 years," explained MacDougall. "This is silly and Broward County was smart enough to turn this deal down a few years ago. Now, we should do the same."
"Why should we have higher hotel room tax? Tourists and visitors would opt to stay outside of Dade County which would be bad for business. Also, the very patrons who attend events at the stadium would have their sales tax rebated right into the Dolphins' owner pocket. It makes no sense."
A more complete breakdown can be seen in this Miami Herald article.
The countywide referendum is still iffy and it will be canceled if Florida lawmakers don’t approve Dolphins-backed legislation before the session ends May 3. If it moves forward, voters can cast ballots in the May 14 referendum. MacDoughall hopes residents will make calls to their representatives to ask that it never see the light of day.
This video interview should enlighten those who weren't able to attend the 30-minute meeting held by the Mayor. His plea is to have "regular folk call their representatives because that is the only way to have a voice. Otherwise, the Dolphins-paid lobbyists will be the only information out there... and that's bad for Miami-Dade County."