Tackling the Sun Life Stadium proposal
3/20/2014, 9 a.m.
Miami Gardens has blossomed from humble beginnings into a bustling municipality of 111,000. Preliminary attendance numbers suggest larger crowds this year at the 9th annual Jazz in the Gardens than in year’s past. Thousands beamed with pride as they welcomed tourists and locals to celebrate Black culture with Grammy-winning, multi-plantinum selling artists. They performed amid the revelry and unity at this predominately black festival that has already grown into one of the largest celebrations of its kind in The Southeast.
But next to the conch salads, grilled crab and merriment lies a large piece of valuable property that may no longer be a part of Miami Garden’s business portfolio if Dolphins owner Stephen Ross succeeds in transferring ownership of the stadium to the county in exchange for privately funding $350 million in renovations to the aging stadium.
Mr. Ross has good intentions. He wants another Superbowl and this his last hope. That’s all fine and dandy, as long as Miami Gardens continues to reap millions in annual tax revenues. But Somehow, Mr. Ross, a multi-billionaire, forgot about this and spoke to business and county leaders without notifying or even including Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert in the talks.
No agreement has been finalized but the game is already off to a bad start. An ugly message has been to sent, alerting Gilbert and the hard-working residents of Miami Gardens of this cold, hard reality: we are not important.
Miami Gardens appreciates the thousands if not millions of dollars the Dolphins and college football games pump into the city’s local economy. But tourists don’t always flock to the same hotels or patronize area businesses. Revenues from these events don’t always guarantee a steady income like a nice $1 million paycheck, especially if the Dolphins continue to have losing seasons.
Kudos to Gilbert for making the interception. His key demands for a public hearing on the issue is sure to keep public pressure on Ross to continue his tax obligations to the city and the Miami-Dade School Board, who also stands the lose millions from the proposed deal.
For economic and social reasons, Miami needs another Superbowl but not at the expense of hardworking taxpayers, educators and administrators who work hard to score big wins under overwhelming budget woes and spending cuts.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez should be applauded for re-affirming Gilbert’s concerns of inclusion and fair game.
Though its too early to gauge Ross sincerity and goodwill to Miami Gardens, he should be reminded that Miami-Dade, its cities and great school districts are all one team that wants to win together. Ross has warned Gilbert and city leaders of moving the organization from South Florida, but to do so without calling a huddle would be a sorry display of bad sportsmanship. Miami-Dade should come up with a solid game plan so everyone can win from this deal. Come on Ross, lets win this championship together.