National Football League hall of famer and former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino made a special appearance Thursday at the Florida House, where lawmakers have stalled on an effort to give the Dolphins taxpayer support for a stadium upgrade.
Marino is the fourth high-profile figure from the NFL to show up in Tallahassee this week. On Monday, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and team CEO Mike Dee spent hours in the Capitol talking to lawmakers about the Dolphins stadium effort.
Marino met with House Speaker Will Weatherford, other House members and Gov. Rick Scott to talk about his foundation, and the sports stadium bill.
"I'm definitely supporting the whole thing with the stadium," he told the Times/Herald before meeting with Scott. "I'm a Dolphin for life and a South Floridian for life.
Weatherford told Marino he thought the sports stadium bill had a "good chance" of passing before Friday.
The Dolphins need Tallahassee approval in order to get taxpayer support for its proposed stadium upgrade and the legislative session is nearing an end without a deal.
The bill passed the Senate on Monday, but was in danger of failing in the House, which has faced procedural gridlock this week as Democrats protested a stalemate over healthcare reform. Session ends Friday.
Marino walked into Gov. Rick Scott's office around 3 p.m on Thursday after meeting with other lawmakers. In addition to being a former Dolphins quarterback, Marino has a foundation to support autism research and treatment. He has traveled to Tallahassee in the past to gin up support for his foundation and cause.
An honorary co-chair of of South Florida's Super Bowl bid committee, Marino also used the opportunity to speak to lawmakers about the sports stadium bill.
"I think it would be great for the community," said Marino. "People have got to understand the economic impact it would have on our community. Not only the jobs, but revenue for businesses, and there's great examples of that throughout the year's Super Bowls have been here, and national championships. From that respect, I'm all for it. Hopefully it'll work out."
If the bill passes and a referendum vote is approved, the Dolphins could receive up to $289 million in taxpayer support from an increase in the Miami-Dade hotel tax, from 6 to 7 percent. It would also offer the team up to $90 million in state sales tax rebates.
If the bill doesn't pass, the referendum vote--scheduled for May 14 and already underway via early voting--would be called off.
The team is looking to spend more than $350 million for its stadium upgrade and has agreed to pay much of the tax money back after 30 years.