Americans for Prosperity-Florida, an advocacy group that campaigns against what it calls “corporate welfare,” is calling on residents of the Miami-Dade metropolitan area to resist a deal being worked out by local elected officials to build a practice playing field for the Miami Dolphins NFL team. The Dolphins are valued at  $2.4 billion, but taxpayers will be on the hook for a deal that allows the team to sidestep property taxes and take in $750,000 per year in addition to a $5 million-dollar “bonus” that the county pays the team to host other events at the Dolphins' Hard Rock stadium facility. In total, the deal could be worth nearly $58 million. Dolphins owner reportedly said that he is privately financing a $500 million renovation.

The Miami-Dade County Commission agreed to new terms in July, while offering additional financial incentives if the Dolphins team moves its practice facility away from the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Broward County. The new facility would be built in Miami Gardens, next to the team’s home field at Hard Rock Stadium. 

In response, Chris Hudson -- AFP state director -- declared, “The Dolphins went fishing for taxpayer subsidies and Miami-Dade and Miami Gardens elected officials swallowed hook, line, and sinker. But it’s wrong that local taxpayers are being asked to pad the privately-owned Dolphins’ bottom line.”

The Dolphins had signed a 20-year deal allotting the team a maximum $5 million subsidy annually for events such as the College Football Championship and professional soccer events. While the team inked the deal in 2014, the Dolphins have not yet requested the maximum amount. So far, it has asked for $1.5 million. The deal that was concluded last month extends the previous deal for a decade and increases the annual cap by $750,000.

The City of Miami Gardens has also offered $500,000 per year to the Dolphins to offset the cost of a higher property tax obligation that will come as a result of the planned practice field. The new facility is projected to be completed by 2020. Officials broke ground in March.

Speaking for AFP, Hudson said that “it’s wrong that local taxpayers are being asked to pad the privately-owned Dolphins’ bottom line. The only ones benefiting from this deal are the team’s shareholders. We hope taxpayers remember which elected officials chose to give away their tax dollars to a privately-owned team instead of using those dollars for the essential services residents need.”

According to the Miami Herald, based on documents from government sources, building the facility will cost at a minimum of $50 million. However, the Dolphins say the project (including practice fields, fitness facilities, and offices) could cost up to $75 million to build.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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