A Florida Senate committee's smiling approval of the Miami Dolphin's request for stadium renovation money may have set off a flurry of similar campaigns by sports teams and enterprises around the state.
The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved sales tax breaks that would help the Dolphins finance a $400-million renovation of Sun Life Stadium. The team is still hoping for a penny increase in the hotel bed tax for the rest of the public share of the bill, which it says will be less than half of the total cost.
A Jacksonville-area lawmaker called the Dolphins' deal "an excellent opportunity to really have a turbo-generator of economic activity." Apparently, according to a Miami Herald report, there are plans for another public-funded "turbo generator" in State Rep. Aaron Bean's back yard:
Last week, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, told reporters that the Jacksonville Jaguars might also be looking for a taxpayer-subsidized renovation. A bill that would provide a subsidy for EverBank Field in Jacksonville has not yet been filed.
Weatherford also hinted that the 53-year-old Daytona International Speedway may be gearing up for a new state deal, to “help make renovations.” The speedway unveiled drawings of a major renovation last month, but has not yet announced how much it will cost or how it will be funded. No legislation has been filed yet, and leaders in the House and Senate said all potential tax deals would be closely scrutinized.
Another pending bill would create tax breaks to allow Major League Soccer to expand into the Orlando area. It would provide a facilities fund of up to $2 million a year for 20 years.
The Dolphins' stadium bill is sponsored by State Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens. Several more Senate committees will be voting on it and it also has to pass in the House, where there may be considerable opposition.