Wednesday, May 01, 2013

UEL Opposes Sunlife Stadium Deal. Guest Blog from The Urban Environment League

Economic Growth? Paying for Sports Spectacles and Corporate Welfare? 
By Dr. Barbara Falsey, President of the Urban Environment League.

Who remembers the dramatic final days before the 1996 referendum to pay for what was to become the American Airlines arena? The Heat were spending more than $3.5 million for ads illuminating a soccer field next to a new arena by the bay.  Opponents had no money. The news media was clearly biased in favor of the deal, repeatedly showing the glitzy Heat drawings. Before the final vote Alex Penelas won election as County Mayor with ads showing him at a kids basketball court - opposing the potential deal. The wording of the referendum itself was deceptive. Subsequently, at the last minute Penelas struck a new deal with the Heat and - we were told- the public interest was greatly enhanced by an increased contribution by the Heat  - who subsequently won the referendum.

Well what has happened to that promised soccer field by the bay in the ads, now known as Parcel B? Take a look. How much have county residents paid for their share of the deal vs what the Heat have paid after all their high salary expenses are factored in? Want to guess?

South Florida has a serious problem with remembering it's deals to promote the interests of wealthy sports franchises. We can’t see that the ruling sports -entertainment-gambling complex that too often speaks as the public’s representatives - has their own narrow set of financial interests at heart. This complex is not the same as the broad community interest.

Now, even as the embarrassments regarding the Marlins stadium deal for local residents repeatedly surface, we face New York real estate mogul Steve Ross who seeks hundreds of millions in state tax subsidies. Ross himself is worth an estimated 4.4 billon and wants extensive up front public subsidies for his private venture with cloudy assurances of paybacks in the distant future. What will the NFL contribute to the stadium?

It’s revealing to see many of the same players involved behind this new/old scenario. The key allies and lobbyists for Ross: Penelas, Brian May, Rodney Barreto, Ron Book, and Ric Katz. State Rep. Eric Fressen (Genting’s water carrier last year) is the house sponsor of the bill.

A classic Miami area political tactic is at work here: last minute timing, a big advertising push, a largely compliant news media – and a push related to an NFL decision deadline. And a largely confused public which is assured by the County Mayor – that this deal is so much better than earlier ones.  Which is true but what a sad comparison and an inadequate basis for a Yes vote on this referendum.

That we have been here many times before underscores (1) our lack of memory, (2) the subtle collusion of the news media and the political establishment in promoting simplistic arguments for tourism, economic growth and (3) the continuing power of corporate welfare and their lobbyists and public relations shills (4) and the overall lack of attention or creative approach to the serious social needs of local residents.

“With your Vote” one Dolphin ad says “more than 4,000 new local jobs” will be created.  Really? Good long-term jobs? We’ve heard that one before.  The economic benefits will also largely go to Broward County - which is putting up nothing for this stadium.

Send a message that while such major needs such as housing for low income people, new educational programs, and even greater economic synergy for tourism beyond the sports complex remain unmet we should not subsidize a billionaire owner of a private sports franchise.

We should wake up to the fact that the Miami area is the nation’s poster child for being suckers for an endless set of fields of schemes.


Squathole said...

"The economic benefits will also largely go to Broward County."

Please document this claim. I believe it is simply wrong, and that one of the conditions insisted upon by the Mayor was that M-D County labor would be prioritized.

There are many reasons to oppose this project (as I do) but this isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

The hotel/tourist dollars will go about 50% to Broward given the geography and the prices. If we get Super Bowl 50 it will be even worse, since the Miami hotels will be full with the Boat Show.

They must be laughing themselves sick at M-D up in Broward.

Anonymous said...

The Broward hotels are packed during super bowls. The BEACH hotels in Miami are not getting hit with this bed tax. It is the mainland hotels. The closest hotels to the stadium are in Broward County. Why would people stay in Miami and subject themselves to downtown traffic?

No guarantees were given to local workers: The Dolphins said they would TRY. No guarantees anywhere that this will benefit Miami Dade County over Broward. The NFL can host parties wherever they want. They are not bound by Dolphins promises. Neither is the Broward County Tourist board.

Good intentions don't count for much Squathole. I don't see anything in writing that is a guarantee for Miami Dade preferential treatment.

Anonymous said...

I got my absentee ballot in today so that my NO vote is counted. I got three shinny flyers in the mail trying to sell this deal based on promised jobs. It is just hard to believe they would have a hurried election for ONE item. With a low voter turn-out, the 10% who show up no matter what will make the call. They are mostly people who know and understand the awful nature of the deal. What I worry about is cheating. Did they ever find out who orchestrated the 2,500 fradulent absentee ballots from the last election?

Geniusofdespair said...

If they did find out, they are not telling us.

Anonymous said...

The deal calls for 75 percent of the monies generated to go to the Dolphins, with the remaining 25 percent for the County. Has the County said what it will use the funds for? Public Parks and amenities? Infrastructure improvements that benefit the public? Arts? Schools? Bike lanes? Are there any limitations to what they can spend it on? Would be considerate if the County told voters. This is the reason the County Commission supported it.

Anonymous said...

Well, based on the Miami Herald we already know it is someone who had something to gain or lose in those three electoral districts. Only a finite number of people would need to be questioned and investigated, and they have had plenty of time to do it. It seems like they would want to clear this up so that voters would have confidence in the system. Maybe another Grand Jury will have to follow-up and report to the public so that confidence is restored.

Anonymous said...

Send a message that while such major needs such as housing for low income people remain unmet-Dr. Barbara Falsey UEL

The Dr. disagrees with Katy Sorenson and agrees with Lynda Bell that District 8 needed low income housing. Who would have ever thought that?

Anonymous said...

Barbara Falsey is correct. Miami-Dade taxpayers get stuck with the tax increase and Broward County gets the benefits. Visiting teams and tourists stay in Broward hotels and the majority of the Dolphin players and staff live in Broward County. The billionaire owner Steve Ross lives in NY and Palm Beach. Vote Against the tax increase.

Anonymous said...

Want to understand the finer points of the stadium deal? Watch this short video, "The Roofless Billionaire" and see how we're getting played.

Anonymous said...

Nyet. No. What part of the backlash against the Marlins does the Dolphins ownership not get.

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