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Miami-Dade GOP opposes Dolphins stadium effort, calling it 'corporate welfare for billionaires'

@PatriciaMazzei

In a troubling sign for the Miami Dolphins, the Miami-Dade Republican Party approved a strongly worded resolution Thursday night opposing the football team's pursuit of public tax dollars to help fund a renovation to their Miami Gardens stadium.

"Tax-payers should never be the source of corporate welfare for billionaires, and should not be responsible for the funds to renovate Sun Life Stadium for the Miami Dolphins," the resolution says.

The measure also calls on state Reps. Eddy Gonzalez and Erik Fresen, the Miami Republicans carrying and supporting legislation for the Dolphins in Tallahassee, "to immediately withdraw sponsorship and support."

The Dolphins are seeking a $3 million annual sales-tax rebate from the state and an increase in mainland Miami-Dade hotel taxes to 7 percent from 6 percent to fund about 43 percent of a $390 million stadium renovation. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross would use private dollars to pay for the rest.

The team is still in negotiations with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez -- a Republican in a nonpartisan post -- to reach a deal on the hotel taxes. Both sides have agreed to put the tax hike to voters in a referendum. The Dolphins want the vote to take place May 14, a week before NFL owners award the 50th and 51st Super Bowls.

Despite being approved with a split 37-34 vote, the Republican Executive Committee resolution should worry the Dolphins. The party knows how to quickly organize voters -- many of them who vote by mail -- for elections. It's the first sign of organized opposition. Another Republican mayor, Ed MacDougall of Cutler Bay, has traveled to Tallahassee to speak against the team's proposal.

The Dolphins say there's no problem with the vote, however.

"The largely internal, personal politics of the Miami-Dade REC, which drove the 37-34 vote, has no impact on the efforts to modernize Sun Life Stadium. As the people of Miami-Dade learn more about the unprecedented public-private partnership where the Dolphins will pay more than a majority of the costs, will repay approximately $167 million to the state and county, and will pay for 100 percent of any cost overruns during construction, the momentum continues to grow to modernize Sun Life Stadium. We are confident that the people of Miami-Dade will support bringing Super Bowls, college championships and international soccer in Miami by voting to modernize Sun Life Stadium," spokesman Anthony Bustamante, a Republican who attended the meeting, said in a written statement.

--WITH MARC CAPUTO

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