I'm normally the type of person who will be the first to say that public money shouldn't be used for professional sports teams.
(Public policy debate: exactly what you come to Bleacher Report for!)
But I have no issues with a public-private partnership that can boost tourism and create jobs. That's what Stephen Ross' plan to renovate Sun Life Stadium looks like to me.
Ross' plan, which he titled "Miami First," is centered around renovations to Sun Life Stadium that include:
- Seats being replaced and widened, with the lower level growing by some 3,700 people and moved 18 feet closer to the action.
- Video screens, lighting and the sound system would all get upgrades, as would elevators and escalators.
- An open-air roof to shield fans from the elements
Obviously I could point to how this would benefit the Dolphins (insert snarky remark about how the Dolphins will make more money and be able to afford a better general manager than Jeff Ireland), as well as the Hurricanes, but I'm not discussing that today.
I'm simply going to tell you that from what I've seen with this plan, it will benefit South Florida as a whole, which is what is really important in the grand scheme of things.
In other words, it's not anything like Marlins Park, a debacle that will likely rank as one of the worst examples of a public-private partnership that went wrong (I can't even call that a public-private partnership, that actually is corporate welfare).
Of course, some people still feel burned by the Marlins Park debacle and might feel hesitant to support these renovations. I can't blame you for that in any way, shape or form. Marlins Park was a terrible deal from the start, predicated on lies from the Marlins and Major League Baseball.
It also won't benefit South Florida very much either. The Marlins are the only real tenant of the albatross (excuse me, ballpark), and the only events that will be held there will likely be other baseball events like the second round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic and an All-Star Game sometime in the future.
Despite that, Miami-Dade County is footing the bill for $376.3 Million, while the City of Miami is on the hook for $132.5 million. The Marlins contributions: $125.2 million (h/t Miami Herald).
Stephen Ross and the Dolphins on the other hand are willing to pay at least half of the $400 million they claim the renovations will cost, as well as any cost overruns.
To get the money the Dolphins will be asking for a bill to empower Miami-Dade County to raise the bed tax from six cents to seven cents, as well as a sales tax rebate. But they are willing to be flexible with lawmakers, with Dolphins CEO Mike Dee saying (via Sun-Sentinel):
"It's not a new tax. We are not restricting our discussions to those two ideas. We are open-minded and eager to work with local elected leaders and legislators to find other means to uncork this private investment that we're willing to bring to the table."
Compare that to the Marlins, who were crying poor and trying their best to lie and cheat their way to a stadium.
The benefits to this mean more Super Bowls in Miami, a conservative estimate would say at least once every five years. It would also mean more college football National Championship Games under the new playoff system being put into place for the 2014 season, and more top-flight soccer events, and the possibility of Miami bidding for the 2019 Pan-Am Games.
Do you support the renovations to Sun Life Stadium?
Those are all events that mean tourists come in. Once again, the Marlins can only really count on one such event in their ballpark, and that event only comes around to a stadium at best once every 20 years (Major League Baseball's All-Star Game).
Due to that information, maybe it's a bit premature for someone to describe the stadium renovations like this from Norman Braman in an editorial he wrote for The Miami Herald that appeared in their January 20th, 2013 edition:
Here we go again! Simply substitute Stephen Ross, who Forbes Magazine reports is worth $4.4 billion, for Jeffrey Loria and we may call it “Marlins II.”
This is where you're wrong Mr. Braman, even though I did agree with you the whole time on Marlins Park.
While Marlins Park was a bad idea that only rewarded a greedy owner, Sun Life Stadium's renovations are a great idea that will not only reward a greedy owner (yes, Stephen Ross is greedy, but at least he spends money on the team), but also the team he owns and the fans and community that supports the team.
Marlins Park II? Not even close.
Now let's move onto the Senior Bowl so we can check out which great players Jeff Ireland will pass on in this year's draft!