House Speaker Will Weatherford fires back at Miami Dolphins


The Miami Dolphins’ owner and top executive have spent the better part of five days blasting House Speaker Will Weatherford since their bid for public funds to renovate Sun Life Stadium died on the House floor Friday night in Tallahassee.

On Tuesday, Weatherford fired back, denying assertions by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and CEO Mike Dee that he had promised to bring the bill to a vote and expressing significant doubt that the House would have passed it.

“At no point during the process were any promises made to hear the Dolphins Stadium bill on the House floor,” Weatherford, a Republican from Wesley Chapel, said in a statement. “It’s no coincidence that we haven’t heard about this so-called commitment until after the bill died.”

The bill would have let Miami-Dade voters decide in a referendum whether to use hotel bed-tax revenues to help fund half of a $400 million stadium renovation project, which the Dolphins said was critical to their chances of hosting future Super Bowls. The Dolphins also wanted $90 million in sales tax rebates from the state over a 30-year period.

Dee had said that Weatherford put political motives ahead of the people’s right to vote.

“We don’t view it as what the Legislature did. We view it as what Will Weatherford did,” Dee said Sunday. “This abuse of power, I believe, will follow his career for a long time.”

Weatherford, 33, said he understood that supporters of the stadium upgrades were disappointed, but “like 700 of the 1100 bills filed this session, it did not have the necessary support for passage.”

The team has canceled all stadium improvement plans, including construction of a canopy over many of the seats to protect fans from sun and rain. The referendum that had been planned for May 14 was called off and the Dolphins will lose the $4.8 million they pledged to the county to pay for the referendum.

Weatherford wasn’t sympathetic to the team’s displeasure about paying for the referendum.

“The feedback from Miami-Dade was negative and there were concerns expressed by members on both sides of the aisle,” Weatherford said. “It’s not the fault of the Florida Legislature that Dolphins’ management failed to win legislative approval to force taxpayers to upgrade Sun Life Stadium after paying for a local referendum. Some would call that putting the cart before the horse.”

Also Tuesday, the Dolphins announced that Ross has made a commitment to the Giving Pledge, a philanthropy initiative started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates.

Families and individuals who participate in the initiative promise to give at least half of their wealth to charity. Ross is worth an estimated $4.4 billion after building his Related Company into an international real estate empire.

A Dolphins spokesman said Ross’ Giving Pledge announcement was planned long in advance and that its timing had nothing to do with the stadium issue.

Statehouse writer John Kennedy contributed to this report.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Miami Dolphins

USC holds off pesky Oregon State; What we learned in Trojans’ 72-59 win
USC holds off pesky Oregon State; What we learned in Trojans’ 72-59 win

It didn’t have nearly the drama of Thursday’s win, the last-second victory over Oregon in which Jordan McLaughlin and Chimezie Metu connected on a game-winning lob. But Saturday’s 72-59 home victory against Oregon State was just as important, if not more so. The Trojans (19-9, 10-5 Pac-12) were playing without...
UCLA outlasts Oregon in overtime in battle of Pac-12 bubble teams
UCLA outlasts Oregon in overtime in battle of Pac-12 bubble teams

It was Senior Night for UCLA, the last time starters Thomas Welsh and GG Goloman will play at Pauley Pavilion. It may have also been the last time junior Aaron Holiday wears the Bruins uniform at home, depending on if he enters the NBA draft. And if it was, he went out with a bang. Holiday’s 29 points included a key three-point play...
What Steve Alford said after UCLA’s Senior Night win over Oregon
What Steve Alford said after UCLA’s Senior Night win over Oregon

The UCLA Bruins continued their hot streak, having won six out of their last seven games, to strengthen their NCAA Tournament resume with a 86-78 overtime win over Oregon on Senior Night. Playing in his final game at Pauley Pavilion, senior Thomas Welsh stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 14 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists...
Mike Boynton: ‘No positive spin, no excuses’ for Oklahoma State’s loss at TCU
Mike Boynton: ‘No positive spin, no excuses’ for Oklahoma State’s loss at TCU

Oklahoma State men’s basketball was unable to make much of an early 9-0 lead on Saturday, suffering a 90-70 loss to TCU at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The Cowboys allowed the Horned Frogs to embark on an 8-0 run late in the first half to surrender what was once a 14-2 edge, and entered the locker...
TCU men’s basketball overcomes early deficit to cruise past Oklahoma State
TCU men’s basketball overcomes early deficit to cruise past Oklahoma State

More Stories