Florida’s Politicians Are Finally Listening

Every time a professional sports team calls upon a city or state for tax money to help fund a new stadium, we get the same old song and dance – why should the taxpayer money help billionaires pay for new facilities that will just make them more money? And then other people fire back that the cities and counties should have to kick in cash because the venues help the economies by boosting sales for bars and restaurants, as well as hotels and strip clubs. It’s the circle of life or something like that.

Now Florida state Sen. Michael Bennett is putting his foot down (after the fact) over the $300 million in taxpayer cash that Florida has paid to help the Miami Marlins build their new stadium, despite being outdrawn in attendance by most college baseball teams. Bennett has argued that stadiums and arenas don’t do anything for the economies as they’re promised and the poor just get poorer, so it’s time to make the billionaires do their parts.

A bill to force taxpayer-funded sports stadiums to double as homeless shelters is making its way through the Florida legislature this week. The bill, introduced by Republican state Sen. Michael Bennett of Florida, seeks the enforcement of a dormant 1988 law that said sports teams that accept public dollars to build their venues must shelter indigent people on off nights.

If teams can’t prove that they’re already complying with the law, Bennett wants them to repay the more than $300 million that Floridians have forked over for facilities such as the Miami Dolphins’ Sun Life Stadium and the Miami Marlins’ new baseball stadium. (Via the Huffington Post)

Check out the big balls on Bennett. Too bad there’s probably no way that this passes, despite the fact that it’s already a law that nobody enforces. As a Florida resident of 31 years, I can say with confidence that rich people will always get what they want. However, that’s why this state is lucky to have my brain at its disposal.

Two years ago, I proposed in a column that I wrote for Axis Magazine that Orlando should open the Citrus Bowl to the homeless, as opposed to spending millions to renovate it just so frat boys could puke all over it again. Instead, the homeless could use it as a giant shelter, and in return they have to clean it. Also, I’d get to be the commissioner of a homeless people football league and once a week they’d have games, and we’d charge a small admission price to pay for their food, medicine and supplies, as well as my commissioner’s salary. Everybody wins.

Well, I think this has better legs now than it ever has, so as soon as I figure out where my congressman’s office is, I’m going to bring this to his attention.