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Last-minute scrambles for the Dolphins as clock winds down without Tallahassee stadium deal

The Miami Dolphins’ proposal for a taxpayer-supported stadium upgrade was being ensnared in the last-minute legislative chaos on the final day of the session in Tallahassee. 

With two separate versions of the team’s proposal passed by the Senate and stalled in the House, Senators were preparing to attach stadium tax language to a massive transportation bill Friday.

The most recent stadium amendment, as of now, does not include language about the Dolphins’ hotel tax proposal, which could bring in up to $289 million for the renovation.

If the Dolphins’ original proposal manages to pass the Legislature at the last minute—and a referendum vote is approved—the tax money would come from an increase in the Miami-Dade hotel tax, from 6 to 7 percent. The proposal also offers the team up to $90 million in state sales tax rebates. The bill allowed other sports organizations to compete for state tax dollars as well.

If the hotel tax language is not included in the proposal and the bill passes, a referendum vote scheduled for May 14 would be called off. The Dolphins might be able to compete next year for up to $90 million in state sales taxes over 30 years. The team is looking to spend more than $350 million for a stadium upgrade. 

The last-minute scramble is taking place as the clock winds down on the 60 day legislative session.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has been cool to the idea of a special tax deal for the Dolphins, saying Thursday that the team faced an “uphill battle.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, spoke to Weatherford earlier on Friday, and came away believing that the bill only had a 10 to 15 percent chance of passing.

“It looks bleak,” he said.