Miami-Dade, Dolphins agree to put $127m stadium reno subsidy before voters

After many days of around-the-clock negotiations, it looks like there will be a Miami Dolphins stadium renovation subsidy plan for voters to decide on next month after all. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced late last night that he’d agreed with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on a plan that would:

  • Provide the Dolphins with $7.5 million a year, increasing by 3% a year for the next 26 years, using money from a 1% county hotel tax hike.
  • At the end of 30 years, the Dolphins would repay the county between $110 million and $120 million, essentially making the deal an interest-free loan as was previously discussed.
  • The Dolphins would pay up to $120 million in penalties if they failed to bring four Super Bowls and four national college football championships to Miami over the next 30 years.
  • The Dolphins will reimburse Miami-Dade for the cost of the election.

So how much does this make the total public cost of the proposed Dolphins deal? This is challenging my Excel skills a bit, but I get $155 million worth of tax money given to the Dolphins (in present value, calculated at a 5% discount rate), less $28 million worth of repayments, for a net total of $127 million in cost to the county. (Drop the discount rate to 4% and it’s $136 million, raise it to 6% and it’s $118 million, but in any case pretty close to what we estimated before, depending on whether we expect inflation ever to return.)

A May 14 vote isn’t yet a sure thing: First, the state legislature has to sign off on the hotel tax hike, which is still a work in progress. And then the Dolphins have to actually win at the ballot box, which looks to be an even dodgier prospect. Still, the team has five weeks in which to launch an all-out campaign blitz, something that’s worked in Miami before.

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