Obscure Florida Law Could Require Sports Stadiums to House Homeless or Return Public Funding

January 26, 2012
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A little-known Florida law could have such a massive impact on the state’ss professional sports venues that they begin to serve as homeless shelters.

According to NBC Miami, Sen. Mike Bennett has pushed state lawmakers to enforce a rule that requires publicly funded arenas to be used as homeless shelters when no official events are being held.

A Senate panel unanimously backed a bill Bennett drafted that would require the arenas and stadiums to prove they have been used as homeless shelter — or else return hundreds of millions they’ve received from municipalities. Bennett’s bill was aimed at Miami area stadiums, but could affect other venues in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville for instance.

Bennett said that franchises need to learn they can’t expect millions in state funds, while officials struggle to come up with money to pay for education and healthcare.

“We have spent over $300 million supporting teams that can afford to pay a guy $7, $8, $10 million a year to throw a baseball 90 feet; I think that they can pay for their own stadium,” Bennett said.

The bill also would fine franchises that impose television blackouts while playing in publicly funded facilities.

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