A contentious Florida Senate race made the prospect of David Beckham’s MLS team in Miami an issue of national importance. The use of public funds to finance construction of the stadium was debated by the candidates Diaz and Diaz de la Portilla. Diaz de la Portilla’s beliefs in particular on the funding of stadiums remained inconsistent and unpredictable.
In 2002, Diaz de la Portilla attacked his primary opponent, Rep. Carlos Lacasa, on the public funding of Marlin’s Park. In 2004, he “suggested he might back” a tax break for Marlin’s Park. In 2005, he opposed a 60 million dollar subsidy. Continuing in 2013, he voted against giving the Dolphins up to $200 million in tax incentives to help renovate their stadium. Yet, in 2014, he supported a different subsidy. He voted for a bill that allowed professional sports teams to compete for new sales tax subsidies to help fund stadium construction and renovations.
Historically, Diaz de la Portilla seems to be on the side of taxpayers and fans, but his recent voting record has us concerned. It’s imperative we find out his true belief on public funding before the election. If he wins, Miami soccer fans could unknowingly be on the hook for millions of dollars. It’s no secret that once in office, politicians change their agendas from what was once promised during their campaigns. Clearly, Diaz de la Portilla is no exception. When it comes to stadiums, he flip-flops more than a fish out of water.
The realization that the prospect of a soccer franchise in Miami has less to do with soccer and everything to do with politics concerned us and soccer fans everywhere. Imagine our surprise when we learned that Beckham’s stadium was going to be entirely privately fianced. According to the Miami-Dade mayor, “I can also assure the residents of Miami-Dade County -- particularly residents of Overtown and Spring Garden -- that this is unlike any previous agreement. The purchasing company will use private funds to build the proposed stadium and will guarantee at least 50 permanent jobs for our community.” A Beautiful stadium, private funds, and 50 new jobs to the city; sounds like a win to us!