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Reps Bileca & Trujillo bash Miami Dolphins' owner for 'dishonest political attack'


A Miami Herald op-ed from Miami State Representatives Carlos Trujillo and Michael Bileca, who have been targeted by the Miami Dolphins for opposing the team's publicly financed stadium plans:

Since the early days of football, the sport and politics have been intertwined in our national identity.

There are even superstitions established around professional teams like the Washington Redskins and the outcome of presidential elections.

The popularity of football and the competitive drive demonstrated by players and teams is something we can all relate to. It does not, however, mean that our tax dollars should support a billion-dollar industry when Florida’s families are struggling to make ends meet.

Recently, Steven Ross, the Dolphins’ owner, asked South Florida taxpayers to foot the bill for renovations to Sun Life Stadium.

While the bad stadium deal that the Florida Marlins imposed upon our community still remains fresh in minds, voters in Miami-Dade opposed Ross’ request for free taxpayer money by a 3-to-1 margin.

When the Florida House chose to defend South Florida taxpayers instead of forcing the issue onto the ballot, Ross decided to spend some of his personal fortune on dishonest political attack ads against us.

For many families, it’s a challenge to even attend a professional sporting event these days, let alone pay more in sales taxes for stadium renovations. Considering that the cost to attend a regular season Dolphins game for a family of four would cost $340 for tickets, parking, four hot dogs and soft drinks, it’s easy to understand why new subsidies for Ross’ business were unpopular with voters.

Furthermore, as the owner of Sun Life Stadium, he already collects $2 million in extra profits every year thanks to an annual sales tax subsidy given to the facility since the mid-1990s.

This year, Ross asked the Florida Legislature to boost that annual payment, which would have equaled a total of $90 million over 30 years with no strings attached. We do not hide from our strong and vocal position against this type of corporate welfare.

As elected representatives for the families of South Florida, our focus is, and will remain, protecting families’ hard-earned tax dollars and improving the quality of life in our state.

As fans of NFL football — especially the Miami Dolphins — we always want to see our team excel, but given the choice between providing funding for priorities important to middle-class families like public schools and transportation or raising taxes to subsidize the Miami Dolphins’ stadium renovations, we choose families. Ross is free to spend his personal fortune on political attack ads if he wishes, but if he instead invested some of his wealth on the stadium he owns, perhaps he wouldn’t have to try to bully South Florida families into giving him more of their hard-earned tax dollars.