Commentary: Upgrading NFL stadium isn't Florida's priority

Over the next two weeks, the attention of football fans around the world will be focused on Miami, site of two of the year's premier sporting events: the National Football League's Pro Bowl next Sunday, and, on Feb. 7, the NFL Super Bowl.

When it comes to hosting professional sports extravaganzas in winter, nobody does it better than South Florida, with its unique combination of pleasant weather, fabulous nightlife, first-rate accommodations and world-class beaches.

But even so, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and some members of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee believe Miami's ability to compete for future Super Bowls is in jeopardy because the Dolphins' newly renamed Sun Life Stadium can't match state-of-the-art facilities in Dallas and a few other cities. Proposed renovations to the 22-year-old stadium could carry a price tag of $250 million. Some folks want the public to pick up the tab.

Maybe if South Florida's economy weren't struggling there would be a way.

Maybe if Miami Beach's convention center had been given its long overdue spruce up there would be more bed tax money available for a stadium.

Maybe if there's a creative private-public partnership that's more private than public.

That's a lot of maybes at a time when funding for other public projects is already stretched to the limit.

This is not the time to ask South Florida taxpayers, many of them earning much less than a year ago or, worse, unemployed, to pony up for football fans to stay dry if it rains. Nor should hotel bed tax money that qualifies for use in building stadiums, convention centers and other tourist attractions be diverted to a football stadium when the convention center should be the priority.

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