My Kentucky Derby pick didn't win on Saturday, but that's OK. Turns out the Miami Dolphins lost a much bigger bet over the weekend -- a $4,784,337 bet, to be more precise.
That's how much the team put up as a "non-refundable" fee to cover the cost of a special election in Miami-Dade County, a May 14 voter referendum that won't be happening since the Florida Legislature killed the Dolphins' hopes of using public funds for their $350 million private stadium renovation.
Absentee ballots were mailed and some early voting had taken place, but all those results will be tossed. The county should have plenty left over from the Dolphins after not having to bear the main costs of the May 14 election -- covering poll workers and setting up hundreds of precincts.
The April county commission resolution that allowed for the referendum mandated the Dolphins to put up a $4,784,337 payment:
"Such payment represents the reasonable costs for conducting this election and shall be non-refundable for any reason, including, but not limited to, the cancellation of the election pursuant to (the Legislature failing to act by the end of the 2013 regular session)."
Oh, well. I guess the Dolphins can just write it off like some bust draft pick that they waste millions in signing bonuses on.
I'll be writing more about the Dolphins' failed money grab for Tuesday's paper.
My overall take:
I'm very happy about the final result (since I think it's terrible public policy to give corporate welfare to billionaires for sports teams) but I'm not especially happy about how it went down.
Basically it was a triumph of Tallahassee dictatorship over democracy, since it all came down to one man’s wishes – House Speaker Will Weatherford. Weatherford refused to bring the bill to the floor, and the Dolphins say they had enough votes in the House to get approval (something which may or may not be true).
Weatherford probably didn’t want to go down as the House speaker who denied health care to 1 million poor Floridians through his opposition to Obamacare/Medicaid expansion while simultaneously allowing a handout of up to $379 million in public funds to a billionaire NFL owner and his team.
Still, it would have looked better for all involved if the Dolphins' request got sunk fair and square – either through a full House vote or by voter referendum in Miami-Dade.
But all things considered, this is the right outcome, especially since the Dolphins went about this in such a hasty and ham-handed way.
The team -- and the NFL -- handled themselves pretty arrogantly throughout this process, which ramped up at two-minute drill speed starting in January. That "opportunity fair" the team held at the stadium offering "prospective jobs" last week was especially cynical and shameless, a ploy to get votes but also symbolic of a team that was putting the cart way before the horse.
And even though the team said it would end up shouldering 70 percent of the costs of the proposed renovation, now they're saying they're not going to put one dime into a scaled-down, limited renovation. What's that about?
Dolphins president Mike Dee told CBS-4's Jim DeFede on Sunday that the team wasn't interested in taking on an "a la carte" renovation on its own, such as only building the rooftop canopy to cover seating areas.
And now Dee says team owner Stephen Ross didn't realize what bad shape the stadium was in when he bought the team and stadium a few years ago? Then shame on them for poor due diligence before doing a $1 billion deal.
More likely, the management could just be guilty of overstating how terrible things are, because the stadium still performed fine as a stage for the latest college football national championship game in January. If the Super Bowl doesn't return, too bad. The NFL will miss South Florida in February more than we'll miss it.
All along, team officials kept saying how the team "needs" public money to do the upgrades and how the stadium "needs" improvements to keep landing big events.
The correct word was "wants."
Give House Speaker Weatherford credit for one thing: he understood the difference.Copyright © 2015, CT Now