After being passed over to host future Super Bowls, the Miami Dolphins attempted to secure public support for a stadium renovation in order to make the Greater Miami area more competitive for Super Bowls and other marquee events. After failing for a second time to secure that support, the Dolphins reached out to Bilzin Sumberg. We assisted the Dolphins with developing and executing a winning strategy for obtaining that public support for the modernization of the stadium. Our strategy accounted for the plethora of complex government regulations applicable to the stadium, which is located on County-owned property, and leveraged, to the client’s benefit, the applicable regulations and taxes. Our strategy also accounted for the ongoing stadium programming to not interfere with sporting and other events. Now named Hard Rock Stadium, the stadium benefited from $400 million in new, privately funded improvements, including a shade canopy, new seating in the bowl, and renovations to the concourses. Following Bilzin Sumberg's work and the Super Bowl Host Committee’s revamped pitch, Miami was awarded the Super Bowl for 2020.
LAND DEVELOPMENT & GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
The Miami Dolphins sought public support twice at the state and local levels, which involved either legislation originating in Tallahassee or a countywide referendum in Miami-Dade County. The Bilzin Sumberg team joined the Dolphins and sought public support a third time but through a different route that required only the approval of the Miami-Dade County Commission. The approach recognized the stadium as an asset of regional import, and Bilzin Sumberg negotiated a performance-based economic-incentive agreement with the County. With that economic incentive, the Dolphins would receive the public support for the renovations only after the private investments have been completed and after the community actually benefits from the hosting of marquee sporting events, such as Super Bowls and major college football championship games. The Dolphins went to the NFL and showed they had public support, and were subsequently chosen to host the 2020 Super Bowl.
In the meantime, the City of Miami Gardens sued Miami-Dade County seeking full jurisdiction over the stadium, which is on County-owned land surrounded by Miami Gardens. Bilzin Sumberg worked with the Dolphins, the County, and Miami Gardens to settle the suit with a first-of-its-kind agreement that allocates jurisdiction between both governments: Miami Gardens received original jurisdiction over the stadium site for certain development issues, while the County retained appellate-review authority, in recognition of the regional value of the stadium.
Bilzin Sumberg negotiated the Marquee Event Economic Incentive Agreement, which had certain provisions that governed the construction of the improvements, and ensured that construction would not interfere with the NFL season and would include participation by local and small businesses. The land under the stadium and the actual playing field itself are owned by Miami-Dade County, which triggered certain public obligations.
BUSINESS FINANCE & RESTRUCTURING
Bilzin Sumberg reviewed and analyzed the financing options the Dolphins were considering, especially as they related to the existing debt encumbering the stadium.