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NFL commish, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross watch as Senate approves stadium deal

by Dara Kam | April 29th, 2013

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and team CEO Mike Dee looked on from the public gallery as the Florida Senate signed off on a plan to help the team get taxpayer money to renovate the stadium with just days left in the 2013 legislative session.

The power players worked the Capitol in behind-closed-doors meetings with House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel; Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville; and Gov. Rick Scott before the Senate’s 35-4 vote, the last thing the Senate did before adjourning for the evening. Gaetz voted against the measure (SB 306).

Goodell said he came to Tallahassee to “demonstrate my support” for the deal, which would make the stadium eligible for tax breaks for the $350 million upgrade if Miami-Dade County voters approve. Early voting on the referendum began today.

“This is important for the NFL,” Goodell told reporters after the vote. “We all are working hard to get the stadiums improved. I think the deal that’s structured here is very intelligent and I wanted to demonstrate my support.”

The taxpayer-backed upgrades could boost Miami’s shot at hosting the Super Bowl, Goodell said.

“When you have a better facility, that’s an important element and going to improve your chances,” he said.

During debate on the measure, Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, argued against the plan, saying it “allows millionaires and billionaires to tap into taxpayer dollars.”

Goodell said he disagrees.

“This bill is structured in such a way as to creative investment in communities and create additional revenue going forward. I think that’s a very positive thing. I think this is a very intelligently structured deal,” he said.

The stadium upgrade doesn’t guarantee a future Super Bowl because the site is selected by the 32 NFL team owners, Goodell said.

But, he said, the stadium is a major part of the application.

“That’s a big element. And this is going to clearly improve that application, which improves the chances dramatically,” Goodell said.

Under the proposal, professional sports franchises that meet certain criteria would be eligible for up to $13 million a year in tax breaks if they can demonstrate that they can generate at least that much in sales taxes and if local voters first approve. The state Department of Economic Opportunity would have to first sign off on the plan, which would then require legislative approval. Teams have to show that they will attract out-of-state tourists, and the plan would have to be reviewed every five years.

“If you don’t raise the money in the time period…you have to pay it back,” said Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando. “This is not giving anyone anything. This is telling someone you have to make money with this money and you have to give it back to the state of Florida. So I don’t see this as welfare to billionaires.”

The Dolphins stadium tax break is far from a done deal, however. The House has to also agree to the plan before the session ends on Friday, and Weatherford has expressed doubt about it. Scott has also said he wants strict safeguards included to protect taxpayers’ money.

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15 Responses to “NFL commish, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross watch as Senate approves stadium deal”

  1. marshaldillon Says:

    What a crock. Here is the test to determine if it is corporate welfare: if they don’t pass the legislation will the team be in the same situation? The answer is no, they would not get taxpayer money.

    As for Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, why doesn’t he try to double the sales tax so the team would get twice as much money. The answer to that is because it would be twice as stupid as this. Sales tax is revenue for the State and when you give State revenue away: to a football team, or a real estate developer or a poor person, it’s welfare.

    When John Henry wanted to build his own stadium for the Marlins with his own money MLB stopped him for fear of it ruining the gravy train of tax revenue for teams in all of the other towns….and then they said how would you like to own the Boston Red Sox?

  2. Floriduh Says:

    On a completely unrelated subject, the legislature has decided NOT to give teachers a raise, NOT to buy new textbooks for foreign languages.
    Fortunately, the NFL will get tax breaks, though. We should all be happy.

  3. Govt rip off Says:

    Why should football players get this kind of corporate welfare. It’s the weather that pulls the super bowl here and the stadium was just improved…it’s amazing as is..

    Rip off by politicians.

  4. nemo Says:

    Pro football players are millionares, owners are billionares, so let’s have the taxpayers, who are already paying for all these other givaways that the dems think up, pay for upgrading a new stadium.

    Time for a revolution? I think so…

  5. Mike Says:

    More tax money wasted on a losing team.

  6. Brian O'Donaghey Says:

    Follow the money.
    I’ll bet 1 of my meager paychecks that every politician who voted for this will get a reelection campaign contribution from someone connected to the team.
    Mark my words.

  7. Toni Says:

    Thank the Republican’s that you keep voting into office. They give millions to billionaire stadium team owners at the expense of the middle class taxpayers. Wake-up people.

  8. Dan Marino Says:

    Hey guys! Wanna hear about my illegit kid?

  9. Dan Marino Says:

    Hey Toni: How about the TRILLIONS you dumb a$$ leftists have given to lazy bums over the past few decades? Thank the Democrats for record deficits, record unemployment, record gas prices, record food stamp usage, record housing defaults, record people on SS disability, a dead ambassador, a ten year war in Afghanistan, handing Libya and Egypt to the Mooslem Brotherhood. Thanks you loser slob.

  10. jac Says:

    Just keep handing your pensions money away. Your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow will be getting smaller and smaller and smaller.

  11. throbo Says:

    A Billionaire getting tax payers to pay his bill? Mitt Romney would be proud :)

  12. John in Delray Says:

    WE elect politicians to give away our money to people who run games that most of us either can’t afford or don’t want to go to!

  13. panhandle Says:

    Let’s see. The Senate wants to give away tax money to refurbish a stadium. On the other hand, middle class working persons, like my family, who can not afford exorbitant health care insurance rates, do not deserve at the least a way to buy in to Medicaid or Medicare. I am perfectly willing to pay in, at a reasonable rate, but to use the tax dollars I do pay in to refurbish a stadium, He// No! These guys make way too much money now and I work just as hard if not harder.

  14. registered independent Says:

    We have a stagnant economy. Few if any have had any raises in years (private or public) Health costs, house insurance, FPL, etc raise every year. State employees get a 3% payroll tax to fund the budget. They want people to pee in a cup if they receive food stamps. Our schools and prisons are being sold off to the highest campaign contributor. Now tax payers are funding a football stadium for a private corporations. God bless our republic.

  15. CommishOfCommonSense Says:

    Not a republic; an Oligarchy run by more than a handful of unethical politicians who create wealth for corporations at the expense of the masses. Two ways to change this. 1) Don’t attend the games, although Ross gets most of the $$$ from TV contracts anyway. 2) Revolt, overthrow government beginning at local level. Keep in mind that the events in Boston prove there is a Militia in place to thwart any such uprising. It will get worse. Pay attention.

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