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Sun, Feb 7, 2016

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Dolphins owner rips Florida House Speaker over renovation bill

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Without renovations, the Super Bowl is off the table at Sun Life Stadium. (USATSI)
When Florida lawmakers let the legislative session expire Friday before approving a deal that would've provided taxpayer support for $350 million in renovations for Sun Life Stadium, it effectively ended any chance the city had of landing Super Bowl L or Super Bowl LI.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was predictably unimpressed by the legislature's decision to do nothing. On Saturday, the team issued a statement in which Ross pointed the finger at Speaker of the House Will Weatherford.

“Speaker Weatherford did far more than just deny the people of Miami Dade the right to vote on an issue critical to the future of our local economy,” Ross said (via PFT). “The Speaker singlehandedly put the future of Super Bowls and other big events at risk for Miami Dade and for all of Florida. He put politics before the people and the 4,000 jobs this project would have created for Miami Dade, and that is just wrong. …

“He gave me and many others his word that this legislation would go to the floor of the House for a vote, where I know, and he knows, we had the votes to win by a margin as large as we did in the Senate,” Ross continued. “It's hard to understand why he would stop an election already in process and disenfranchise the 40,000 people who have already voted. I can only assume he felt it was in his political interest to do so. Time will tell if that is the case, but I am certain this decision will follow Speaker Weatherford for many years to come.”

Ross wasn't the only person associated with the Dolphins to take shots at the politicians. Jorge Arrizurieta and H.T. Smith, who co-chaired the team's campaign for a subsidized stadium renovation, released their own statement on the matter (via the Miami Herald).

“By leaving Tallahassee without letting the people of Miami-Dade vote on the modernization of Sun Life Stadium, the Florida House clearly showed our community that they would rather play politics than do the right thing. While the Tallahassee politicians found time to raise the contribution limits for their fundraising, they said they couldn't find time to let the people of Miami-Dade make their voices heard. While they pushed their political agenda, the House leaders refused to support the effort that would create over 4,000 jobs and provide a much-needed boost to our local economy.

“The House put at risk the future of Super Bowls and other major events in Miami, which are so critical to our tourism economy. It's a sad day when Tallahassee gives San Francisco and Houston a victory at the expense of our community.

“This inaction by the Florida House of Representatives is frankly irresponsible and regretful. The most basic responsibility and right a citizen has is the ability to vote. All we asked for was the opportunity to vote to not be denied. Unfortunately, the House chose to deny Miami-Dade residents the right to have the final say on this effort.”

And although public funding may be off the table, there's always this: Ross, who is worth $4.4 billion according to Forbes, could use some of his own money to finance the renovations. (We'd advise against holding your breath waiting for this eventuality.)

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