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Miami Dolphins secure deal for stadium revamp

NFL American football team Miami Dolphins has reached a deal with Miami-Dade County that will see it bear responsibility for the renovation of Sun Life Stadium in exchange for county payments when it hosts major events.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will be financially responsible for the $350m (€257.4m) renovation, which includes adding a partial roof, and the payments, Performance-Based Marquee Event (PBME) grants, will come from Convention Development Tax (CDT), or hotel taxes, over the course of the 20-year agreement.

“I want to thank the Board of County Commissioners and Mayor (Carlos) Gimenez for approving this unique and creative plan to bring Super Bowls and other marquee events to Miami-Dade County,” Ross said. “We have one of the world's most aspirational cities and, as such, deserve a stadium that will provide significant economic impact to Miami-Dade County. This will not only secure the future of the Dolphins, but will ensure that Miami has one of the world’s best venues to host events of this magnitude going forward.”

Dolphins president and chief executive Tom Garfinkel stated the city will bid to host the 2019 Super Bowl when the process opens next year. The Super Bowl falls under the top tier in PBME payments alongside any potential US staging of the Fifa World Cup final, netting $4m. Payments of $3m would be applied to college football championship matches and other World Cup games, college football semi-finals would be worth $2m, and international soccer games $750,000 under the agreement that the stadium can win credit for no more than two such games per year.

Prior to 2024, the stadium owners may not earn more than a total of $30m in PBME grants, while the county is not obliged to make any payments before the end of that year. Construction is slated to take place in two phases, the first potentially within a matter of weeks, with a target to complete the renovation by the start of the 2016 NFL season.

New York-based property developer Ross did not attend Tuesday’s county commission meeting, where a divided vote of 7-4 in the Dolphins’ favour was returned. Gimenez told the Miami Herald newspaper: “This is a performance-based agreement. No major events, no funds. It’s just that simple.”

Garfinkel told the Herald that the renovation would bring Sun Life Stadium’s capacity down from 76,000 to 65,000, adding seats closer to the field and removing a number in the upper-level to make it a more soccer friendly venue.

However, this does not open the way to a collaboration with David Beckham’s proposed Major League Soccer franchise in Miami at this stage, with the former England international and his consortium committed to building a soccer-specific facility at around a third of Sun Life’s capacity.

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