Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Thursday night that negotiations with the Miami Dolphins over public funds to renovate Sun Life Stadium are “not far apart,” though the two sides have yet to finalize a deal.
“They have said what they needed and I have said ... what I am willing to give,” Gimenez said. “We are not far apart.”
A deal between Gimenez and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is crucial as the Dolphins look to schedule a referendum next month to approve raising hotel taxes to help pay for a nearly $400 million upgrade to the 1987 stadium.
Dolphins CEO Mike Dee went into a closed-door meeting with Gimenez at 3 p.m. Thursday. The mayor, who had a prior engagement, left shortly after 7 p.m., leaving his deputies and Dee behind to continue the discussions. Ross was expected to weigh in at some point in the night via telephone, Gimenez said.
The Dolphins are asking for $3 million a year from Florida and increasing mainland hotel taxes in Miami-Dade to 7 percent from 6 percent to fund about 43 percent of a $390 million renovation of Sun Life. Ross would use private dollars to pay for the rest.
Gimenez said a sticking point in the talks continues to be what portion of the hotel taxes would go to the Dolphins.
“That’s a big issue,” he acknowledged, otherwise calling it a “very simple deal.”