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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Nick,

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

  5. What a mess … If a whole bunch of posts show up saying the same thing, my apologies

  6. 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.

  7. RWL – we had that same law in MN – the legislature found a way around it

  8. 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

  9. 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?

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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