The Miami Dolphins’ agreement to modernize Sun Life Stadium was good for the black community because we would have received up to $45 million in construction contracts, 15 percent of operational business and a fair share of the 4,000 construction jobs necessary for the modernization project.
First, little publicity was given to the Community Benefits Agreement worked out between Bill Diggs, president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, and Mike Dee, president and CEO of the Miami Dolphins.
That agreement required that members of the predominantly black Chamber of Commerce would receive contracts for engineers, contractors, subcontractors, architects and other professionals totaling between $35 million to $45 million.
This agreement also provided for contracts to assist in operating the stadium after construction was completed and the current concession contracts expire in 2015. This is how small businesses are sustained.
This is how small businesses grow. This is how jobs are created in our community. This is how jobs are created by our community.
The Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce should be commended for negotiating this groundbreaking agreement. Even though it is no longer in force, it will be the template for future expenditure of public dollars for public/private construction partnerships.
The modernization plan would have immediately provided more than 4,000 construction jobs. More importantly, the county required the Dolphins to achieve aspirational goals for 70 percent of the jobs to go to Miami-Dade residents, 20 percent of the jobs to go to poor communities and 10 percent of the jobs to go to residents of Miami Gardens — the predominantly black city where Sun Life stadium is located.
The Dolphins’ deal was also good for black Miami-Dade because we would have received these business and job opportunities without raising the taxes of anybody in the black community.
The public funds would have come from tourists and a rebate of taxes on items sold at Sun Life stadium only.
On top of that, the Dolphins guaranteed that they would bring four Super Bowls, 4 BCS Championship college football games and 20 international soccer matches to Sun Life stadium during the life of the agreement.
Furthermore, the first Super Bowl had to be awarded to Miami by May 22 or the entire deal was off. Each Super Bowl has an economic impact of $400 million and represents $82 million in free publicity.
You do the math. For an investment of less than $400 million, our community would have gotten billions of dollars return on our investment. And if the Dolphins failed to meet those guarantees, then they would have been required to pay fines up to $120 million. This was unprecedented.
Finally, every time the Super Bowl comes to Miami, the NFL YET Center at Gwen Cherry Park in Liberty City receives a $500,000 grant from the National Football League.
This youth center was built in 1996 with a $1 million grant from the NFL, a $100,000 donation from the Dolphins, and $3 million from the business community. The center provides daily homework assistance, computer training, health, nutrition and fitness classes, reading programs, dancing and all major sports.
Unfortunately, the stench of the Miami Marlins’ stadium deal permeates the air and causes some people to want to punish the Dolphins for a sports deal they had nothing to do with. By every objective measurement, the Dolphins’ modernization plan was a good deal for black Miami.
The fact that it was also a good deal for the Dolphins and its owner, too, is no reason for our community to have opposed investing public funds that would have given us a good return on our investment.
In all successful partnerships, both partners are supposed to benefit. Hopefully, black Miami will get another chance to make this deal work.
H.T. Smith, an attorney, is chairman of the Gwen Cherry Park Foundation.