* Proposal draws ire of Florida car dealer
* Dolphins seek government help with stadium revamp
* Owner says venue improvements will boost economy
By Zachary Fagenson
MIAMI, Jan 18 Real-estate tycoon Stephen Ross is
drawing fire from another high-profile Florida billionaire and
others opposed to providing tax dollars to renovate the
privately owned stadium where his Miami Dolphins football team
"It's welfare for a multibillionaire," Norman Braman, a
billionaire car dealership mogul who has sworn to defeat the
effort, said in an interview. "Ross should write the check
himself. According to Forbes, he's worth $4.4 billion."
The Dolphins, who are partly owned by singer Jennifer Lopez
and tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, are just the
latest big professional sports organization to seek government
help with facilities around the country.
In 2009, Braman spent more than $1 million to fight a Miami
Marlins' campaign to secure more than $600 million in public
funding for a new baseball stadium that opened last year.
Ross this week proposed personally paying $200 million of a
$400 million tab to erect a massive canopy for fans and make
other improvements at Sun Life Stadium in northern Miami-Dade
But he also wants a hike to 7 percent from 6 percent in a
lodging tax and bigger sales-tax rebates to pay the balance.
Legislation okaying the tax changes has been introduced in the
state legislature, which will consider it during a two-month
session that begins in March.
Echoing other team owners in the National Football League,
the Dolphins argue the improvements are needed to win future
Super Bowls and college football championship games that local
hotels and other business seek.
"Miami needs to do some work on its stadium if it's going to
get another Super Bowl," Ross said. "How can we attract these
great events and how can Miami be looked at as a world-class
city? This all turns into creating jobs."
Though NFL owners around the country claim large events
bring hundreds of millions of dollars into the surrounding
communities, some economists argue the impact is vastly
"A good rule of thumb is to take whatever the promoters of
the Super Bowl are saying and move the decimal point one place
to the left," said Victor Matheson, a professor at the College
of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. "The bump tends to be in the
$30 (million) to $100 million range, not $300 million to $500
The Dolphins are just one of many teams to make a case for
using tax money to build or renovate arenas.
In May 2012 Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill
authorizing a partly bond-financed plan for a $975 million
stadium for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, with the team putting
up around $477 million.
In Texas, the City of Arlington issued nearly $300 million
of bonds to help fund construction of the $1.3 billion Cowboys
Stadium, which opened in early 2009.
Yet in Los Angeles, Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns
or operates sports and entertainment venues across the country,
proposed a 73,000-seat arena in the city's center without
tapping public funds. The Los Angeles City Council in September
approved the $1.2 billion project and Anschutz plans to issue
$314.6 million in bonds to help fund construction.
"I'm prepared to do what I think is more than what an owner
has done in the past," Ross said. "There's only a limit of how
much capital that you can put into something."