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Miami-Dade Taxpayers Covered $1M Of Hotel Rooms For Super Bowl Players

Super Bowl LIV may have been entertaining, but some residents near where it was played have been steaming over the price tag. 

Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens

South Florida taxpayers will be on the hook for $20M in costs for hosting the game, with $1M of that going toward hotel rooms "provided to players earning millions for teams owned by billionaires," the Miami Herald reports.

Though politicians bragged that the event would generate $500M in revenue to South Florida, some experts contended it would actually bring in closer to $50M. Whatever the exact figure, critics say those dollars largely bypassed locals. 

Miami-Dade County paid roughly $230K to the J.W. Marriott Marquis in downtown Miami, where the San Francisco 49ers players stayed, and $777K to the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort and Spa in Aventura, where the Kansas City Chiefs stayed, the Miami Herald reports. These payments were marked as "deposits."

Miami-Dade’s budget director told the Herald the hotel costs were part of $4M in cash subsidies the county contributed toward hosting the game. The county also paid the NFL at least $1M.

In addition to the county's costs, local municipalities waived fees for venue rentals and covered police and cleanup costs, leading to the $20M estimated bill for area taxpayers. 

The full cost of hosting a Super Bowl is notoriously difficult to ascertain, as related documents are often kept secret. But according to details leaked in the past, the NFL requires that a slew of services be provided at no cost. Host committees in cities that want to bid for a game agree to raise private money, secure political commitments and help coordinate details like venues and security. 

Rodney Barretto, chair of Miami's host committee, declined to discuss finances with Bisnow in a recent interview, but he said billionaire Stephen Ross should be commended for spending $500M of his own money to upgrade Hard Rock Stadium, which he owns, to lure the event. Ross is a real estate developer and founder of megadeveloper Related Cos. in New York. He also owns the Miami Dolphins, which play at Hard Rock.

The stadium is now being prepared for the Miami Open tennis tournament, and will host the college football national championship game in 2021. Ross is trying to lure a Formula One race there as well. 

The 140-acre Hard Rock Stadium is located in the predominantly African American city of Miami Gardens, which is 15 miles north of the Miami airport and 18 miles from South Beach. Critics say that Miami Gardens residents absorbed traffic and security costs without reaping financial benefits of events like the Super Bowl, as the city chips in for police, but only has one hotel. 

Andre Williams, president of the Miami Gardens Chamber of Commerce, told The Crusader that his organization wasn’t consulted by the Super Bowl Host Committee. He suggested that most tourists only drive in for the few hours for the actual game; they eat and sleep in more affluent areas away from the venue. 

“Those folks are spending their money on Miami Beach and Miami or Las Olas Boulevard in Broward County,” he said. 

Miami Gardens residents are trying to derail the plans for Formula One, which would debut next year and run annually for 10 years.