Okay, so remember way back yesterday, when the Miami Dolphins stadium bill was stalled in both the state house and senate with only four days to go, and it looked like the clock might run out? Forget all that, because NFL commissioner Roger Goodell flew into town yesterday and sprinkled his magic pixie dust around (read: held out the carrot of the Super Bowl, and likely also the threat of a relocation to that imaginary stadium in Los Angeles), and the state senate responded by voting 35-4 to okay $13 million a year in new tax subsidies to pro sports teams in Florida.
That’s sports teams in general — the senate bill sets up a $13 million a year pool of funds, then allows any teams (with the exception of the NBA, but the Heat have already gotten two new arenas in the last 25 years, which presumably will hold them for a while) to apply for funds from it. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity would make recommendations, and the the legislature would vote again on who gets the money. In addition to $3 million a year for the Dolphins, the prospective owners of a prospective Orlando MLS expansion team would be expected to ask for $2 million a year, and then you’ve got your spring training sites, and so on.
The house still needs to pass the bill, but speaker Will Weatherford indicated yesterday that he’s happy with it, and with the overwhelming passage in the senate, it looks way more likely than it did yesterday that the whole mess (the Dolphins part of it, anyway) is going to be headed to Miami-Dade voters to decide. Voting, and robocalls to influence the voting, started yesterday; given the most recent polling, you’d think the stadium subsidy would be looking at long odds, but if the 100-to-1 rule holds, it’s going to be more about the ad campaigns than public distaste for throwing good money after bad.