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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Lawmaker to stadium owners: House the homeless, or pay up



There are dozens of homeless people who sleep on the street every night just blocks from the shiny AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami.

According to an obscure law, AAA should be acting as a shelter for the down-and-out on nights when Lebron James isn’t throwing down dunks in front of late-arriving A-Listers, or other events aren’t taking place in the 20,000-seat space.

AAA, and several other stadiums across the state, have been collecting monthly checks from the state as part of a $271 million program to advance economic development through sports facilities.

But at least two legislators want the stadiums to refund a good chunk of that money, citing a law that requires any pro sports facility receiving financial assistance from the government to act as a shelter for the homeless on non-event nights.

Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) and Rep. Frank Artiles (R-Miami) have filed bills that would require stadiums to return money to the state if they have not been complying with the homeless shelter law.

“These organizations have failed to follow the law for over 20 years," said Artiles, in a statement ."This is the simply the State of Florida holding them accountable."

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Tampa Bay Lightning have both received more than $30 million from the state in the last 15 years, and the AmericanAirlines arena has taken $27.5 million since it was built in 1998.

Here’s a list of all the stadiums and spring training facilities in the state that have collected state funds over the years. It’s unclear whether any of them are acting as homeless shelters on off-nights:


[Last modified: Saturday, January 21, 2012 11:14am]


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