Don’t give money to stadiums, says bill proposed by South Florida lawmaker

In an issue driven by South Florida’s history with professional sports owners, the House has started moving forward with a plan to reduce the potential of tax dollars being used to build sports facilities.

The House Workforce Development & Tourism Subcommittee on Thursday backed a measure (HB 791) that would go further than a similar Senate proposal (SB 414), which would repeal an unused pool of sales-tax dollars intended for building and improving professional sports stadiums.

The House proposal, filed by Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Miami Springs, also would prohibit the use of revenues from tourist-development taxes or convention-development taxes to finance or construct facilities that would be used by sports franchises.

The bill also would remove authority for local governments to spend half-cent sales tax revenues on motorsports entertainment complexes.

Opposition to stadium funding has steadily grown in the Legislature since a 2009 deal by Miami-Dade County to borrow about $400 million through bonds for Marlins Stadium. The deal, according to projections, may come to a cost of more than $2.6 billion when the final payment is due in 2048.

The deal has been further criticized when owner Jeffrey Loria sold the team for $1.2 billion in 2017. Loria had acquired the team for $158.5 million in 2002, when the club played its home games in what is now Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

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