News Column

Chamber Recommends Taxes to Pay for Stadium

Feb 6, 2013

Douglas Hanks


The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce wants to increase hotel taxes to help pay for a $400 million renovation at Sun Life Stadium.

The business group's board on Wednesday endorsed the Miami Dolphins' financing plan for their home stadium, saying the upgrade will be good for the county's economy. The Dolphins want an annual $3 million state subsidy and millions of dollars in Miami-Dade hotel taxes each year to fund the biggest renovation in the stadium's history, including a partial canopy to shield spectators from the sun and rain.

Under the plan, Miami-Dade would increase mainland hotel taxes to 7 percent from 6 percent, making them the highest in Florida. Miami Beach is also expected to raise its hotel tax to 7 percent to fund improvements of the city's convention center.

By raising mainland hotel taxes to 7 percent, Miami-Dade would generate at least an extra $9 million a year. The Dolphins-written state bill allowing the change would permit Miami-Dade to give the team that new tax money as an operating subsidy each year. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has proposed using private dollars, likely a mix of team and NFL funds, to pay for $201 million of the $400 million renovation, with state and county dollars making up the difference.

The Chamber resolution adds the Dolphins bill to the group's legislative priorities, meaning Chamber leaders will urge lawmakers to pass the bill.

Sun Life is vying with the new $1 billion stadium in the San Francisco area for the 2016 Super Bowl, and the Chamber's resolution endorsing the higher taxes cites the economic value of winning that game. A study funded by a Chamber arm, the South Florida Progress Foundation, concluded the Dolphins and Sun Life generate about $1 billion a year to South Florida's economy. The resolution said the stadium renovation would create 4,000 construction jobs and pump an additional $2 billion into Miami-Dade's economy over 15 years.

The Dolphins have made a contribution to the foundation, according to someone familiar with the gift. The foundation is supported by various businesses with ties to the Chamber. A team spokesman declined to say how much money the Dolphins gave the non-profit. The Chamber's leadership has made promoting the sports industry a top priority.


Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2013 The Miami Herald

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