TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Miami Dolphins Tuesday scored a touchdown with a state legislative committee in Tallahassee.
The team was seeking legislative approval to receive a $3 million dollars a year tax break for the next 30 years, if it generates the money from sales inside the stadium, to renovate Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins would have to guarantee they remain in Florida for at least 20 years.
It's just the first vote, though. A final vote would come during the session that starts in March.
The team's CEO, Mike Dee, appeared before a Senate Committee seeking the break. The money is already available to other franchises.
"This is about keeping our community competitive," said Dee.
The home of the Miami Dolphins opened in 1987. It is one of the oldest stadiums in the country.
"We don't need to have a billion, billion- five shrine a new facility to stay competitive. But on the flip side of that, we also can't have an aging facility."
But some who voted for the bill say other pro sports teams need help as well. The bill only helps the Dolphins, who don't qualify for the same break as other teams because they were in the state before the 1988 law was passed.
"I just have real trouble when we're going to write a law that benefits one team," said committee chair Sen. Nancy Detert, a Republican from Venice, Florida.
Others voiced concern as well. The reality is that every franchise in Florida other than the Marlins, who just got a new stadium, want something from the legislature to improve their attendance. The Tampa Bay Rays want a new stadium and the Jaguars in Jacksonville also want in on the action.
The bill's passing opens the door for other teams to get into the negotiations, which is just fine with the Dolphins CEO.
"Sen. Braynon said we had an open mind, that he had an open mind to making that change, but we take great confidence away from today's step," said Dee.
The bill is still a heavy lift for lawmakers. Broadening it to other teams makes the lift less heavy.
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