The Miami Dolphins have canceled plans to renovate Sun Life Stadium after a bill did not enter the state House of Representatives.
Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said Sunday that the team will not upgrade the stadium without public funding.
“We cannot do this without a public-private partnership,” Dee told the Palm Beach Post.
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford did not bring the bill into the House for a vote on Friday.
“Unfortunately for all of us, Speaker Weatherford decided that it was his vote that mattered, and deprived the voters of Miami-Dade County the right to do just that,” Dee said. “We don’t view it as what the Legislature did. We view it as what Will Weatherford did.”
He added: “At the end of the day, this abuse of power, I believe, will follow his career for a long time.”
Dee also suggested that the lack of a deal might force the team out of southern Florida.
“The Dolphins are one of the only franchises in the NFL that don’t have a long-term lease with their community,” Dee said. “At some point somebody’s going to buy the franchise from Steve, and clearly the stadium is the first thing they would need to address.”
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was similarly critical of Weatherford’s decision.
“Tonight, Speaker Weatherford did far more than just deny the people of Miami Dade the right to vote on an issue critical to the future of our local economy,” Ross said in a statement on Friday, according to the South Florida Business Journal. “The speaker single-handedly put the future of Super Bowls and other big events at risk for Miami Dade and for all of Florida. He put politics before the people and the 4,000 jobs this project would have created for Miami-Dade and that is just wrong.”
The Florida Senate passed legislation that would have created a process where pro teams would compete for $13 million a year in state incentives. Other professional sports organizations seeking money included Daytona International Speedway and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The bill would also would have let the Dolphins tap into local taxes to help pay for renovations to Sun Life Stadium. Miami-Dade voters are scheduled to vote May 14 on a referendum to help the team.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.