Lawmaker takes aim at sports stadium funding

By News Service of Florida

File photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - State lawmakers will again consider a proposal to discard an unused pool of state sales-tax dollars available to build and upgrade professional sports stadiums.

Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, filed a measure (HB 6005) on Tuesday that would repeal a controversial 2014 law that created a stadium-funding program.

The program makes available $13 million a year for stadium work.

The law was sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who is now chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

The intent was to take lobbying out of the process of funding stadium projects. But the House has blocked spending money in the program, which also has become a target of the conservative-advocacy group Americans for Prosperity-Florida.

“Why should taxpayers foot the bill for billionaire sports owners who want to expand their facilities?” Americans for Prosperity-Florida Director Chris Hudson said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

The money, which comes from sales taxes, has been unsuccessfully sought for improvements at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Daytona International Speedway, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami-Dade County and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and for construction of a soccer stadium in Orlando.

Avila's bill is filed for the 2018 legislative session, which starts in January. House and Senate versions didn't move through committees during the 2017 session.

News Service of Florida