The Miami Dolphins are pushing a proposal to raise Miami hotel bed taxes to bankroll a proposed $225 million stadium facelift in Broward County, the Miami Herald reports.
If passed, the bill would raise the the hotel tax in Miami-Dade to 7% vs. today's 6%.
For travelers, that would mean paying a daily tax rate of $14 on top of a $200 room rate vs. the current $12.
But whether raising tourist taxes in the tourist-driven state that's still reeling from the recession and travel downturn will fly is less than clear for a number of reasons.
"The four-page bill sets the stage for a regional debate over whether the Dolphins should get public dollars," the Miami-Herald says.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the proposal has already generated quite a bit of controversy among both civic leaders and in the business community. But some tourism leaders say the proposal could be a way of improving the Sun Life football stadium to the point where South Florida could be considered to host the Super Bowl again.
The Dolphins want to give the stadium a partial roof, high-tech screens, lighting and 3,000 new premium seats, the stories say. Dolphins CEO Mike Dee recently told business leaders that investing in stadium improvements would add about $2.5 billion to the local economy through 2040, the Herald reported last week.
But the plan has at least one high-profile skeptic: Author and columnist Carl Hiaasen, who in his Sunday column in the Miami Herald calls the proposal a "rip-off." He writes:
This is what you call a bifurcated rip-off.
Taxing the tourists who stay in our hotels has always been politically appealing because tourists don't get to vote. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the bed-tax revenues in Miami-Dade are an object of fierce and lustful lobbying, and the Florida Marlins struck gold first.
Mathematically challenged county commissioners pledged 40 years' worth of future hotel taxes to secure bonds for constructing the new Marlins baseball stadium, which is destined to be the costliest mausoleum ever built, and the only one with Jumbotrons.
The hotel-tax bill - proposed by Florida Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami - proposes that the extra tax revenue be split between the football stadium and the Miami Beach Convention Center, the articles say.