Florida Rejects $350 Million in Corporate Welfare For The Miami Dolphins

174px-Miami_Dolphins_logo.svg220px-NFL_Jets_at_Dolphins-Sun_Life_Stadium-2012-09-24Something extraordinary happened in Tallahasee this week. The legislature actually turned down a demand for hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare for the Miami Dolphins. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross descended on the capitol with an army of lobbyists and pocket legislators to muscle through the package to upgrade his stadium at public expense. They did all of the formulaic moves seen in other states where legislators have opened the treasury to billionaire owners: they lined up unemployed people who would get jobs, Dolphin fans supporting their team, and politicians standing with the owner. This time however legislators balked and actually voted the public rather than their personal interest.

Not all legislators of course. Ross found willing agents like Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah and Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami, who did his bidding to raid the treasury for $350 million upgrade of Sun Life Stadium in a state that is cutting core educational and social programs. Even in the age of corporate welfare for sports teams, the demand was obscene.

It is particularly remarkable given Florida’s political structure. I worked as the legal consultant for the Florida House of Representatives for a year and was shocked by the degree of control exercised by lobbyists. Due to the lunacy of term limitations, members are not in office long enough to learn much about the system before they have to leave office. The result is that lobbyists write the laws and direct the members. Moreover, since members are only in office for a short time, they are more susceptible to offers of jobs and perks from lobbyists. I saw incredible parties thrown by lobbyists who found ways to shower staff and members with gifts. This is made even worse by the ridiculously short legislative sessions.

However, even with those problems of legislative capture in Florida, the members somehow stood up to the demands of Ross, who was irate at being denied hundreds of millions of dollars from Florida taxpayers. Keeping a straight face, Ross actually blamed the legislators of playing politics. He lashed out at House Speaker Will Weatherford and insisted “[h]e put politics before the people and the 4,000 jobs this project would have created for Miami Dade, and that is just wrong.”

In some strange universe where billionaires dwell, this may seem wrong, but it seems just right to most of us leaving on Earth.

Source: Miami Herald

54 thoughts on “Florida Rejects $350 Million in Corporate Welfare For The Miami Dolphins

  1. Good luck with all that. The good people of Minnesota fought against these greedy bustards that own the Twins and the Vikings for years. Fat lot of good it did us.

    We are on the hook for over half a billion dollars for the Twins stadium that was finished about 3 years ago. This was after a decade of saying NO!. It was supposed to make the team able to compete with the big money boys. I am sure it has brought a lot of new revenue to the billionaire family that owns them but the team has finished dead last the last two years. Oh, and it increase the sale value of the team by an estimate $125 million.

    We just lost the fight with the Vikings after nearly a decade and will screw the state out of a billion dollars to build a palace for the billionaire owners family.

    With these greedy fungoos the fight is never over till they win


  3. thank dog, finally. This should have happened the very first time it was proposed. Sports organizations and players are making bank on the backs of the tax payers. had this been done a long time ago salaries would not be as high and ticket prices would be lower.

    That notion about creating jobs is bravo sierra and anyway do you really need to spend $87,500 to create jobs that only pay $20-50k? That math doesnt add up.

  4. Frankly,

    In Missouri, we are still paying for the St. Louis Cardinals Ball Park, and now the St. Louis Rams are coming after our wallets & purses (the Rams recently won an arbitration case against us; hence, either we have to help upgrade their stadium to the tune of $700 million or they can skip town. However, there is a little wrinkle in the middle: Missouri voters passed a law stating that in order for public funds to be spent on sports facilities, voters must approve via voting.).

  5. Andy,

    I have been praying that Wrigley Field would be torn down and rebuilt. I have heard that they are ‘moderninzing’ Wrigleyville (area around Wrigley Field), but only ‘upgrading’ the ball park.

  6. As a Florida resident I was glad to see this happen. Ross/Dolphins paid for weeks of ads backing the remodel, with misleading details, such as increased jobs. The backstory to this is that three years ago, after making extravagant promises to put money into the team, Miami’s baseball team owner Jeff Luria got a new stadium built on the taxpayers dime. One year after its opening he got rid of the best players on the team in a salary dump. Team has one of the lowest payrolls in baseball and as of today is heading for a record bad season. Both men are billionaires and the TV revenue for their sports is such that they literally can’t lose money on their teams, even though both are incompetently run. Numerous economic studies have also shown the lie to the claim that new stadiums increase jobs and build local revenue. Just another of the many scams the wealthy use to increase their wealth at no risk to themselves. In this case the baseball bad memories were too recent to be ignored.

  7. I’m a firm believer that if you own a professional sports team, making the kinds of profit they enjoy, that the owners should all pay for their own damn stadiums.

  8. There is some commenter above who does not know how to turn off the ALL CAPS function. Most people will skip over paragraphs written in such a manner. I did.

  9. I hope that Saint Louis rejects the upgrade to their relatively new stadium. The fans dont give a rat’s ass about the quality of their stadium if they can see the game without some pole in front of them and dont have gum on the seat upon which they sit. Teams compete on the field. When they dont compete the fan attendance might drop. The Rams need to go elsewhere and the fans in Saint Louis can be content to watch other sports. Go Billikens!

    A commenter above says that Missouri has now adopted a law requiring voter assent. That is great. I do not live in Santa Luigi anymore and was not aware of that.

  10. Ralph Nader has spoken eloquently on this disgusting corporate welfare scam. The NFL has not had a team in LA for decades even though it’s the 2nd largest market. The reason is simple. LA is the stick in this scam. Build us a new stadium or we’re moving to LA. It was used successfully just last year w/ the Vikings. Good for the Florida legislature.

    What happened to the Cubs/Ricketts post?

  11. RWL, Maybe the Rams need to return to LA. The GREAT sports city of St. Louis could then end that “We’ll move to LA” horseshit. Your Cards just pimp slapped our Brewers this weekend. The Cards park is nice. However, I had been to the old Busch before and after the renovation. I thought the modernized Busch was just fine. But we all know, it’s about the suites and big corporate dollars!

  12. Gene, Peter Uebberoth made the same statement as you about owners building their own stadiums. He was quickly told, “Don’t let the door hit ya’ where the Good Lord split ya’.” Ironic a commissioner simply saying the end to socialism is fired.

  13. This lesson in FLA (and MINN) should have been learned years ago from the stadium built in TX for the Rangers while GWB was the GM. GWB walked away with something like 15 MILL for getting the Bond Issue thru the TX Legislature to finance the stadium. He used that to propel himself to the TX governorship (along with everyone’s bosom buddy, Karl Rove) and from there to the Presidency. And, we all know what that legacy has left us … Trillions in debt from an unfunded war(s) …. Hey, Cheney whip out that Platinum AMEX Card of yours and pay off the wars you helped start … Remember the ones you said that the USA would be reimbursed completely for from the sales of cheap Iraqi oil to lower our prices at the pump …. Or was that your neighbor there on Chesapeake Bay, “Rummie” …. Who with three years as a fighter “jock” under his belt overruled the Chief of Staff of the Army (and had him unceremoniously early retired) when he said we would need 400K to 500K troops instead of the 130K you sent — like six times apiece…

    If anything, in MINN, spending taxpayers monies should have been put to a state-wide vote and taken directly OUT of the hands of the actual legislators given how many are in the hip pockets of the lobbyists these days.

    Billionaire Welfare as well as WALL STREET Welfare has got to stop in this country.

    That would also include a complete abolition of the FED …. WHY are we allowing a dozen private banks who have their bottom line clearly focused first in their sights …. Why are we allowing them to set monetary policy? The Constitution gives that power only to the Congress. Wilson was duped in 1913 when he signed the act creating the FED. It is time to bring these shenanigans both at the FED as well as these corporate billionaire handouts wherever they occur to a screeching halt.

  14. “Ironic a commissioner simply saying the end to socialism is fired.”

    There is a difference between socialism and fascism. Propping up private profits with tax dollars is fascism, not socialism. There is no holding in trust for public use/benefit. Stadiums are a keystone revenue stream for private enterprise, not public infrastructure.

  15. Shades of Art Modell

    Ross got his start in business by helping to organize deals for wealthy investors enabling them to shelter their income by using tax losses from investments in federally subsidized affordable housing. Scummy dude.

    He owns the stadium, he can pay for the fix-it. If he wants to use taxpayer money then tax payers are entitled to all stadium revenues.

  16. Sorry, Blouise. For some reason your comment got caught in the spam filter. I was in there checking something else, noticed it and approved. Hopefully Askimet/WordPress will get the spam filter issues we’ve been experiencing fixed soon.

  17. Kudos to the Florida legislature. Now, if they could only take their Governor to the side and teach him some sanity.

  18. Blouise, What Modell did was in the top 5 shameful moves of all time. I assume he’s still despised in Cleveland, even in his grave?

  19. Finally, a backbone to say no to stadiums.

    These stadiums can do a lot of economic damage to a community if the finance goes awry. One such example nearly bankrupted the city of Wenatchee, WA.

    White Elephant Stadium

  20. Nick,

    Despised? Hated! Every time he’s nominated for the Hall of Fame, Brown’s fans around the world – we have the largest organized fan base in the NFL -start writing letters. He’s been nominated 9 or 10 times. He died in 2012 and even that wasn’t enough to stop the campaign against his nomination this year.

    He was quoted númerus times as saying he would not return to Clevelnd, even for games between the Browns and Ravens as he feared for his life.

  21. Nick,

    I’m trying to answer you about Modell but it won’t post … I even took out all the bad words

  22. The problem, of course, is that the team may just up and leave as they do if you don’t obey them. Then the city loses a source of money and people get kinda bummed out, and you end up with a lot of angry people… Which causes more negative stuff to happen in the short term.

  23. Blouise, It did the same thing to me yesterday. Pasta.. now I am hungry. I have a jar of Rao’s arrabiata sauce i could heat up.

  24. SWM, I have eaten @ Rao’s in Vegas[very good]. However, I wasn’t aware they had a mail order biz. I always like good quality food websites as gifts. Balducci’s had one of the best, but they gave it up..too much hassle. Some regulars for me are Wolfermann’s, Boudin Bakery and Julian Pies.

  25. Nick S,

    Cardinals Rule (and we are doing it without Albert Pujois, Chris Carpenter, & Kyle Loshe)!

    I voted for Ralph Nader a few years ago (maybe it was a decade or 2 ago?).


    Really? Not a good sign for us in the STL.


    Yes!! Go SLU and I have been to a couple of games in the Chafeitz Arena. (however, I was kinda sad that Father Biondi is retiring. Didn’t realize he was 74).

  26. ap and SwM,

    Whatever does the spam filter have against us … we’re such laid back, non-controversial posters

  27. Blouise, Some conspiracy folks here would believe the spam filter is reading your mind.

  28. Blouise, A Dr. Hook reference out of the blue! I went to school w/ a lot of North Jersey kids who loved “The Doctor.” I never acquired the taste.

  29. Blouise,

    Interesting tune. A song of his I was not familiar with which is surprising as my uncles were big fans of Dr. Hook back in the day and I’m a huge fan of the Shadow. I even liked the Alec Baldwin movie. Beautifully shot, great art direction and any cast with both Jonathan Winters and Peter Boyle can’t be all bad.

    Also, I asked the spam filter if it was reading your mind and it said the cleanest thought it could detect was “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.” Then it mumbled something about Tex being ruggedly handsome, blushed and malfunctioned again.:mrgreen:

  30. Gene,

    To tell you the truth, Tex looks alot like Dr. Hook including the eye patch (I kid you not) and in his youth, the long hair … except Tex is 6’4″.

    “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.” should be our (you and me) theme song.

    I also enjoyed Baldwin’s Shadow

  31. St. Louis could prove itself to be the best sports town, IF it tells the Rams to go Ram themselves in their behinds and go elsewhere. Maybe Kroneke or what ever his name is will close some Walmarts on the way to LA. I am proud of FL for saying No. Some wealthy guy in Saint Louis gave the Saint Louis University Billikens enough money to fund a new arena and it is a fabulous place.

  32. Nice observed:
    “Blouise, Some conspiracy folks here would believe the spam filter is reading your mind.”
    That is why those folks wrap their DSL modems in tin foil.

  33. It seems like Florida of all places could have put that money to better use. Good for the legislature for voting the public interest.

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