Last Minute Parliamentary Move Puts Stadium Tax Break On Pause

May 1, 2014

Credit Sally Falko

David Beckham’s bid to extend a Florida sales tax rebate to his proposed Major League Soccer facility may be in jeopardy.  The Senate chose Thursday to delay a vote on the bill at the last minute.

Florida lawmakers feel sports facilities like stadiums have an important role to play in metropolitan environments.  Not only are they a significant source of tax revenue, but they can serve as a kind of hub supporting complimentary businesses like restaurants. 

Because of their capacity to promote local investment, Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) brought a bill forward to allow new stadiums, or stadiums investing in improvements, to retain some of the sales tax they generate.  But importantly, Latvala says the measure only applies to new sales tax revenue.

“So, if a team renovates the bathrooms in the stadium,” Latvala says, “and it costs $'x' million dollars, and they can’t show that that produced an increase in sales tax to justify the amount that they asked for, then they can’t have it.”

In a compromise with the House, Latvala’s proposal limits the rebate to 75% of the total increase in sales tax receipts, and no facility may recoup more than $3 million in one year. This means the more money improvements raise, the more money the facility can potentially keep. 

The bill also extends this offer to a broader range of sports leagues – including Major League Soccer – good news for projects in Orlando and Miami.

Also, Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) has attached an amendment requiring Major League Baseball to change its stance toward Cuban players before its teams can take advantage of the rebates.  Flores says the league’s restrictions are unacceptable.

“The only way a Cuban player can come and be part of major league baseball, and be a free agent is by going to a third country, establishing residency, and then they are able to be a part of major league baseball,” Flores says.

But just before the final vote, Latvala’s bill was temporarily postponed, a common parliamentary procedure allowing the Senate to set it aside, and decide on the matter later.  But the Senate session is scheduled to come to a close tomorrow evening.