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February 08, 2014

MLS wants tax exemption for Florida all-star game tickets, in addition to subsidy for new stadiums


Major League Soccer doesn't just want a state subsidy for new sports facilities to welcome perhaps two new teams to Florida.

It also wants lawmakers to waive a 6-percent state admission sales tax for any MLS all-star game that could someday be played in the Sunshine State.

With an expansion franchise scheduled to open in Orlando and David Beckham pushing to a bring another team to Miami, MLS is trying to get the same treatment that Florida legislators have given in the past to other professional sports leagues.

Sales taxes are already waived for the National Football League's Super Bowl championship and Pro Bowl games, for example, and for Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby, as well as for pro basketball and hockey all-star games.

House Bill 231 and its companion, Senate Bill 330, would add MLS to that list, resulting in a loss to state coffers of about $100,000 in taxes for each all-star game, according an estimate by the Senate's Commerce and Tourism committee. The same legislative analysis notes MLS held its all-star game here once, in Orlando in 1998. (A similar House analysis also lists the $100,000 estimate, if a game is held within the next five years, but says a hard figure is "indeterminate.")

The big question is whether Florida lawmakers will be open to any of the requests to benefit sports franchises. Last year, the full House failed to take up a subsidy that would have helped the Miami Dolphins renovate Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.

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