Why The Dolphins' new stadium deal might not be as great as it appears


There are plenty of reasons to get excited over the Miami Dolphins today.

The free agent frenzy has been one reason, as general manager Dennis Hickey appears to have done a fine job of plugging up some of Miami’s most pressing needs while also getting a bit younger.

There’s a bigger reason for excitement, and that reason is the announcement that Stephen Ross made that he will be footing the $400 million bill for renovations to Sun Life Stadium.

Time to celebrate then, no public money will go to the Dolphins, yet Miami will be back in the Super Bowl rotation! Happy days are here again!

Our own Michael Serrania seems to agree as well in his latest piece.

Not so fast though, as there is a catch, one that Michael does point out in his piece.

According to The Miami Herald’s Douglas Hanks, in order for this to happen, Sun Life Stadium will become county-owned, just like Marlins Park and the American Airlines Arena.

Just like those facilities, Sun Life Stadium would also be exempt from paying property taxes, to the tune of nearly $4 million per year.

The same report by Hanks cites that Miami-Dade County is already facing a budget shortfall on property taxes, and that’s with the Dolphins paying their share on the deal.

Is the deal better than the one proposed by Ross and the Dolphins last year that died in Tallahassee? It certainly is, by a lot as well, but that doesn’t make it great, or even good.

You could point out the money that a Super Bowl brings to Miami-Dade County as being enough to make up for the property tax shortfall, but even with the stadium renovations that isn’t a guarantee. Miami will still have to compete with newer facilities for the Super Bowl, and their place in the Super Bowl rotation might wind up being every 10 years instead of every five.

On top of that, think about how Ross will finance it. Will it come from his own reserves of cash? I would guess no. He will likely take out a line of credit in order to finance the building, and with Ross no longer owning the facility per the deal (ownership will transfer to Miami-Dade County); it will be the county that assumes any liability.

Now I’ll admit I am only speculating on this and I’m not the greatest expert when it comes to how it works in the field of real estate or finances, but it is pretty safe to assume that Ross will get the line of credit he’d want for the renovations, and at terms that are favorable to him.

So before we praise Ross for the renovations, I’d ask that we look closer at what the true cost and benefits will be. I’m not saying this will be the worst thing in the world or that he’s stealing from the county, but rather to tread very carefully and ask questions about it.

Miami is my home, and has many problems, I only want what’s best for it, and a renovated stadium is one of those things, but not at the expense of the residents of Miami-Dade County.

It would be wise to heed the wisdom of filmmaker Billy Corben, who tweeted out:

We said no to the Miami Dolphins last year and got a “better deal” this year. How about we say no again and get a “better deal” next year?

Thomas Galicia covers the Miami Dolphins for Cover 32. Follow him on Twitter, @ThomasGalicia.

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