MIAMI (AP) — Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has offered to pay the entire tab for up to $400 million in stadium renovations in exchange for a property tax break.
The upgrades would help keep South Florida competitive in bidding for Super Bowls and college football's championship games.
Stymied last year in his efforts to secure public money, Ross has agreed to pay for the project himself, two people familiar with the situation said Monday. Both people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the billionaire hasn't spoken publicly about his new financing plan.
Ross seeks $2 million to $4 million a year in property tax reductions and would continue to pay some property taxes, one of the people said. Ross has discussed his proposal with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who said obstacles to a deal remain.
"We agree that unless renovations are made to Sun Life Stadium, Miami-Dade County will lose the opportunity to host another Super Bowl," Gimenez said in a statement. "Mr. Ross' proposal is better than last year's. However, there are still hurdles that the Dolphins organization must overcome before I feel comfortable with the proposal."
Renovations would include a partial canopy to shade seats that are now exposed, installing new seats and moving others closer to the field, and upgrading the club level. Until now, Ross was unwilling to foot the entire bill, although he said improvements to the 27-year-old multipurpose stadium were badly needed to bring the Super Bowl back to Miami.
Rodney Barreto, chairman of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee, applauded Ross' change of heart and said the owner's request for property tax relief was reasonable.
"I'm overwhelmed," Barreto said. "It's fantastic and unprecedented. Mr. Ross is stepping up big time. The guy is going to write a $400 million check. This puts us back into contention, no doubt."