Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who plans to begin negotiations with the Miami Dolphins next week over the team's proposed stadium renovations, told sports-talk radio that he is not eager to have the county take ownership of Sun Life Stadium.
"I really don't like to negotiate in public, but I'll tell you this: I have no particular interest in owning any part of the stadium," Gimenez said Friday morning on Joe Rose's morning show on WQAM-AM (560). (Listen to the interview here.)
There has been talk behind the scenes that a potential deal could give Miami-Dade ownership of the stadium, which sits on county land but belongs to the Dolphins. That arrangement would no longer require the team to pay property taxes on the facility, and would require the county to provide an operating subsidy to the team. A similar agreement exists between the Miami Heat and the county-owned AmericanAirlines Arena.
Speaking to Rose, Gimenez didn't dwell on the ownership question, saying the county is still gathering information before negotiating in earnest.
So far, the mayor and the Dolphins have agreed that any potential deal will go to the voters in a special election. That referendum could take place on May 7 or May 14, former state Rep. Marcelo Llorente, a Dolphins lobbyist and Gimenez supporter, told Spanish-language radio station WQBA-AM (1140) on Friday morning.
The mayor told Rose that he wants the Dolphins to commit to privately funding more than 51 percent of the $400 million stadium improvements, as team owner Stephen Ross has pledged.
And he had quite a few things to say about the Miami Marlins.
The unpopular deal financing deal for the team's Little Havana ballpark helped propel Gimenez, a vociferous opponent of the plan, to the mayor's office.
Early in the interview, Gimenez referred to the Marlins -- the Team That Must Not be Named -- as "that other deal." (Similarly, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee at a press conference Thursday referred to the Marlins' ballpark as "the other facility.")
Then, the mayor let loose.
On Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria: "The only person that has less positive approval rating in Miami is Fidel Castro. Fidel Castro and Jeffrey Loria. That's not good, man."
On the Marlins deal hurting the Dolphins: "Without a doubt, if the Dolphins deal were by itself without the Marlins, it would be a lot easier if we were to come to an agreement. The Marlins deal has soured a lot of people. They got burned, and they don't want to get burned twice."
On Marlins President David Samson touting that the ballpark may come in under budget -- though the county still has to pay the same annual maintenance costs: "My name is Carlos Gimenez. I am the mayor Miami-Dade. I like the fact that it was under budget, but I'd like to get some of our money back."
On the Marlins' center field homerun sculpture: "I thought that was atrocious."
"They just can't seem to get anything done correctly here, and they basically step all over themselves," Gimenez concluded. "I wish that somebody -- either them or some other ownership group -- do us right here in Miami-Dade County."