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New soccer stadium subsidy remains on sidelines for Miami-Dade lawmakers


To little fanfare, the Miami-Dade County legislative delegation chose its priorities last week for this year's lawmaking session. Among them: stepping up penalties for hit-and-run drivers; funding programs for people with autism and developmental disabilities; and bringing state dollars back for water projects.

Nowhere on the list is there a mention of Major League Soccer.

Retired footballer David Beckham's investors, who are seeking a state subsidy to build a new stadium and bring an expansion franchise to Miami, didn't go after local lawmakers' group support. And none of the lawmakers brought up the issue on their own.

Last year, the Miami-Dade delegation also steered clear of taking a group position on the Miami Dolphins' unsuccessful push for a subsidy to renovate Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. That decision drew more attention because one the delegation's chairman, Hialeah Republican Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, was sponsoring the legislation himself.

Gonzalez said at the time that he did not consider the Dolphins' bill a strictly local issue, though the football team would have been the only one to benefit last year. Yet the delegation's silence highlighted divisions among the lawmakers and hurt the bill's chances. Legislation that benefits a single local entity faces longer odds in Tallahassee when local lawmakers are not united behind it.

This time, it's Beckham's investors who are pitching the new-stadium subsidy as a statewide issue, not a local one. The legislation would allow a new franchise to apply for the sales-tax subsidy, but Beckham's group, Miami Beckham United, would not be the only one to benefit: MLS has already awarded a new team to Orlando that will begin playing next year.

That doesn't mean Miami-Dade lawmakers aren't involved in the bills. On Tuesday, Miami Republican Rep. Erik Fresen filed House Bill 887, a version of the stadium-subsidy legislation filed earlier in the Senate by an Orlando-area lawmaker.

This post has been updated to reflect Fresen's bill. Before Tuesday, no Miami-Dade lawmaker had sponsored an MLS-related bill this year.