A rewrite of a state bill could deny the Miami Dolphins as much as $90 million in Florida funds if the team starts the renovation of Sun Life Stadium as planned this summer, people close to the franchise said Wednesday.
The revised bill that passed the Senate Monday dropped a provision that would have allowed the Dolphins to apply for state stadium funds in the coming months, when the team hopes to begin a $350 million upgrade of the 1987 stadium in time for the 50th Super Bowl in 2016. Dolphins executives and lawyers believe the passed bill effectively bars Sun Life from receiving state dollars if construction work starts in 2013, according to two sources close to the team.
Sen. Oscar Braynon, the Miami Gardens Democrat who wrote the Dolphins-backed bill, confirmed that the new language does prevent the team from receiving new state dollars if the project starts this year. He said he does not know what the Dolphins plan to do, but suggested a delay in the start of construction was possible.
“It may move their timeline,’’ Braynon said. “It may force them to move their timeline to fit in with what the bill says.”
Team executives would not comment on the potential loss of state dollars, but the two sources close to the team said a delay of the renovation is not an option and that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross owner would start the renovation without state money as long as the county funds are approved. Eric Jotkoff, a team spokesman, issued a statement that said: “Our priority continues to be making sure that the voters of Miami-Dade have the final say on modernizing Sun Life Stadium, which will create thousands of local jobs and provide a substantial boost to Miami-Dade’s economy.”