Pro sports teams line up for tax breaks in Florida

4:19 PM, Feb 22, 2013   |    comments
Sun Life Stadium, empty seats during baseball game, Miami Gardens, Florida
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Tallahassee, Florida - Florida sports teams are lining up at the state Capitol seeking millions of dollars in tax breaks, even though they are already getting tens of millions of tax dollars from previous deals with the state.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are asking the Florida Legislature for a new tax break worth $60 million. A proposed bill would provide $2 million a year for the next 30 years to help pay for stadium improvements to Everbank Field.

The Jags already get a tax rebate of $2 million a year from a deal dating back to 1994. That annual cash will continue through 2024.

Plus, the Miami Dolphins want $3 million a year in tax breaks for the next 30 years for renovations at Sun Life Stadium. The team also gets that $2 million annual tax rebate.

Critics say too many Floridians are struggling financially to justify giving wealthy professional sports teams more big tax breaks.

But the state senator leading the way to create a new tax break for the Jaguars says Everbank Field is dated and needs improvements.

Sen. Rob Bradley argues the tax rebate would put an end to rumors that the Jags might leave Jacksonville.

"I think it is a good investment. I think it is the responsible thing to do as taxpayers and I think that it has the added benefit of securing the future of professional football in Jacksonville and the region."

Bradley argues Everbank Field is no longer a world-class facility because it was built nearly 20 years ago.

"Since then, over 20 NFL teams have replaced their stadiums so we have a choice. We can either go and build a new stadium, or we can take what we have and improve it and make it world-class... and I think this bill will give us the resources to be able to do that."

Eight pro sports teams in Florida currently qualify for the state's $2 million-a-year tax break over 30 years, including the Tampa Bay Rays, Lightning and Buccaneers.

The cash comes from sales taxes generated by the teams. Under the deal, those taxes go to the teams as rebates, instead of going to the state for other needs.

Another bill seeks that same tax rebate for the city of Orlando. It's trying to attract a Major League Soccer team by building a new stadium.

Here are the eight teams in Florida receiving the $2 million annual tax rebate:

Facility name

Certified entity

Franchise

First Payment

Final Payment

Total payments to date

Sun Life Stadium

Dolphins Stadium/ South Florida Stadium

 

Florida (Miami) Marlins

06/94

06/2023

$39,166,745

Everbank Field

City of Jacksonville

Jacksonville Jaguars

 

06/94

05/2024

$37,333,408

Tropicana Field

City of St. Petersburg

Tampa Bay Rays

 

06/95

06/2025

$35,166,737

Tampa Bay Times Forum

Tampa Sports Authority

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

 

09/95

08/2025

$34,833,403

BB&T Center

Broward County

Florida Panthers

 

 

08/96

07/2026

$33,000,066

Raymond James Stadium

Hillsborough County

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

 

01/97

12/2026

$32,166,731

American Airlines Arena

 

BPL, LTD

Miami Heat

03/98

03/2028

$29,666,726

Amway Center

City of Orlando

Orlando Magic

02/08

01/2038

$10,000,02

 

Dave Heller

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