It looks like those signs of resistance in the legislature to the Miami Dolphins‘ $200 million stadium subsidy demands have gotten a response from the team, and an unexpected one: The Miami Herald reported this weekend that team owner Stephen Ross will be agreeing to a countywide public referendum on the deal, as a condition of getting state and county money for the deal.
This is potentially a major concession by the Dolphins, since the thing about public votes is you can sometimes, you know, lose. It sounds as if the team is doing their best to rig the game in their favor, though: They’re shooting for a special election before May 22, when the NFL is set to pick the host city for the 2016 Super Bowl, since “We can’t get the 2016 Super Bowl without it!” wouldn’t have the same impact as a campaign slogan after that date. A special election also tends have lighter voter turnout and so rely more heavily on especially motivated voters, meaning it’d be easier to swing the result by mobilizing lots of football fans and construction workers on referendum day.
It doesn’t look like there have been any recent polls of voters on the Dolphins stadium plan, though the Herald reported that “Dolphins executives say their focus groups show public support for the financing plan, given Ross’ pledge to keep public dollars below 50 percent of the work.” (Anyone who thinks these “focus groups” were actually to test the mood of the public and not to enable Ross to gear up his “We’re not the Marlins” campaign, raise your hand.) Ross certainly has his work cut out for him, but as Miami has seen before, a lavish enough ad campaign can often swing the vote in your team’s favor.