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Hope for the homeless? Football stadiums!

by Dara Kam | January 20th, 2012

Converting football and baseball stadiums into homeless shelters might seem like a strange idea, but Florida law apparently already includes such a provision.

State law now requires that any professional sports facility built with state money must be used as a homeless shelter except when the facility is being used for a specific event or activity.

But none of the 17 football, baseball, basketball and hockey arenas that relied on state money for construction have ever been used to house the homeless, according to Sen. Mike Bennett, who’s filed a bill that could cost counties and professional sports franchises big-time.

Bennett’s measure (SB 816) would require that counties and professional sports franchises who’ve received state aid to build stadiums or other facilities prove to the attorney general that they’ve got a homeless shelter in place, or refund the money to the state.

So far, Florida taxpayers have contributed more than $261 million to the facilities. St. Lucie County received nearly $1.3 million in 2007 to help cover the costs of a spring training ball park for the New York Jets.

Dolphin Stadium could be on the hook for the biggest pay-back, if Bennett’s bill goes anywhere. They’ve been paid $37 million thus far by the state. Also on the line are counties, cities or other backs of nearly every major-league sports team in the state.

Bennett called the teams’ and counties’ failure to provide housing for the homeless “yet another example of how taxpayers are supplementing the super rich owners of sports franchises while the taxpayers of Florida are receiving very little in return” in a press release this afternoon. He said he discovered the requirement in existing law over the summer.

“I cannot believe that we tax people who are making a living catching mullet in our state and then take that tax money and send it to billionaires so they can have fancier stadiums,” Bennett, R-Bradenton, said.

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5 Responses to “Hope for the homeless? Football stadiums!”

  1. Thomas Says:

    The last paragraph is very true. We give millions to the rich to build a stadium in the middle of the Cuban Ghetto in Miami, and when people fail to go to the games, the Team will cry hardship and move. Typical of having the middle class fund the states foibles.

  2. Ken Says:

    I think it is fabulous that we have funded a spring training facility for the New York Jets.

    Clearly, the writer knows nothing about sports.

  3. They aint taxpayers Says:

    We should build a football stadium out in the middle of the Everglades. Put a fake home team name on it like “Home of the Crocs” and then dig a mote around it.
    We then bus all of those pushing around shopping carts stuffed with blankets and trash, those banging on our windows at intersections, those who are chronic drunkards, trespassers and petty thieves all out to the new stadium.
    We air drop kegs of beer and food daily. We need a few guards there so they don’t get out.
    We can then get on with our “pursuit of happiness…”.

  4. angel deschaine Says:

    I understand about people being worried about the drug addicts. But, for the ones who have really lost everything because of the economy is truely the sad part of what our country has come to. I now it is a good thing to help the children of other countries, but are first priority is to our help our neighbors. A lot of the homeless are veterens and families with children who have to live in seperate sheltors. I know their are the ones who abuse the system for their own selfish needs, which make it harder for the ones that really need it. I think it is only far that they use the facilities for the homeless and not just for disater relief. The cities can always hire extra security guards to police the stadiums during off the season, when being used for the homeless. People need to remember that someday it may be possible that you and your family may end up homeless, then how are you going to feel when no one or no organization is there to help you. I believe that they should either honer their deal or give the money back, so that the cities can use it to help the communities.

  5. Chase Woofer Says:

    I have looked at all the articles in how this news story came out, but yet I have not been able to find WHAT LAW, I have searched the florida laws and can’t find it. It’s funny they say it’s there but they don’t give the details……

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