Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo is lending his superstar power to the Miami Dolphins in their quest for a subsidized renovation to Sun Life Stadium.
On Thursday, the Dolphins' campaign arm, a political action committee named Friends of Miami First, said it is rolling out Spanish-language television and radio advertisements and automated phone calls to voters featuring Ronaldo, one of the world's best soccer players. Ronaldo is getting paid for his efforts, campaign spokesman Eric Jotkoff said.
If Florida lawmakers sign off on Dolphins-backed legislation in Tallahassee and Miami-Dade voters approve a May 14 referendum supporting a hotel-tax rate hike to fund part of the $350 million renovation, the Dolphins have agreed to host at least 20 internationally televised soccer games at Sun Life over the next 30 years. Failing to host those games or other major sporting events, such as at least four Super Bowls, would result in up to $120 million in penalties for the team.
In trying to appeal to Miami-Dade's majority Hispanic voters, the Dolphins have played up the soccer games in Spanish-language ads. One radio spot says the team is "committed" to hosting a World Cup -- soccer's biggest tournament -- even though Sun Life in practice has little say over whether the U.S. would get to host the event at all. The team has said the stadium improvements are necessary to bring Sun Life up to standards set by FIFA, international soccer's ruling body, to host games other than friendlies.
"Hi, I'm Cristiano Ronaldo," Ronaldo, who is Portuguese, says in Spanish in the TV ad. "Me and many professional soccer players love Miami. We know that Miami has many fans. The modernization of Sun Life Stadium in Miami will establish the center of professional football in North America.
"Please vote yes to modernize Sun Life Stadium on May 14 in Miami so I can come back every year to Miami to play."
Listen to the radio spot and robocall below.