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Politics

Marlins' Public Finance Deal Could Sack Dolphins

January 13, 2013 - 6:00pm

Miami has long been known as a football town, even with the Heat's recent championship. But the Dolphins' off-field moves may be playing under an ominous fiscal shadow cast by the new Marlins Park.

Seeking state and local help to pay for the proposed $400 million in renovations to Sun Life Stadium, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross held a press conference Monday to express concerns about scoring the needed backing because of the public and political backlash over the year-old, taxpayer-funded, $640 million, retractable-roof Marlins Park.

We recognize the public certainly has a feeling about the deals that have been done in the recent past in respect to stadiums and ballparks, and we have to approach this differently, said DolphinsCEO Mike Dee, according to the Palm Beach Post. We have to go about our business very carefully and in a straightforward way, and bring to this process a solution that works for the community.

While public funding for a stadium where millionaires play is never popular, the taste of the Marlins' salsa-pulsating park took on a deeply pungent stench after the club began unloading starters for prospects and lower-paid players.

Former NL batting champion Hanley Ramirez, second baseman Omar Infante, right-hander Anibal Sanchez and closer Heath Bell were dealt as the team fell to the basement during the season, and pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck and outfielder Emilio Bonifacio were shipped out shortly after the season closed, for prospects and cheap replacements.

It cant be anything close to what the Marlins did, state Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, told the Miami Herald. Unless you do something totally counter to what the Marlins did, nobody is going to vote for it.

And Braynon, evidenced by sponsoring legislation in 2011 to help the Dolphins with renovations, has been a fan of the teams efforts that are also geared to keeping the stadium a viable option for future Super Bowls and national college bowl games.

Ross, who unlike the Marlins ownership, is reportedly willing to pay for the majority of stadium upgrades, is seeking a penny tax increase on hotel charges -- currently 6 cents in Miami-Dade County -- and for pushing from $2 million to $5 million the discount on sales taxes the stadium now receives from the state.

The plans for Sun Life -- previously known as Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, and Land Shark Stadium -- include the addition of a partial roof and making the seating even more favorable for viewing football now that the Marlins have their own field.


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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