Monday, April 23, 2018
Politics

PolitiFact Florida: Dolphins aren't only NFL team to pay property taxes

The statement

The Miami Dolphins "are the only NFL team in the entire nation that pays property taxes" on their stadium.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez, in a county commission meeting

The ruling

The Miami Dolphins are attempting to score what would be an incredibly fast political touchdown: a one-month campaign to persuade Miami-Dade County voters to sign off on a stadium construction deal.

During the county meeting when commissioners signed off on the referendum, Commissioner Sally Heyman asked if the team would continue to pay property taxes on the stadium.

Mayor Giménez replied: "Commissioner, as far as I know the Miami Dolphins are the only professional team in the state of Florida that actually pays property taxes. And, as far as I know, the Dolphins are the only NFL team in the entire nation that pays property taxes. This does not change."

At PolitiFact Florida, our ears perk up when we hear that something is the "only" one in the country. Is Giménez correct?

The Dolphins' tax bill for the stadium was about $3.6 million in 2012 — that includes about $3 million in real estate taxes and the rest was for tangible personal property and local business taxes, Miami-Dade tax records show. The tax bill for the parking lots is about $368,000.

We contacted multiple NFL teams and found two in addition to the Dolphins that pay significant property taxes on their stadiums: the Washington Redskins and the Carolina Panthers. (Hillsborough County owns Raymond James Stadium where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play. The Bucs pay property taxes only on small parts of the stadium under their complete control, such as offices.)

The Redskins own FedEx Field in Landover, Md. The Redskins paid about $3 million in 2013 — most of that is for property taxes and includes a small fee for solid waste collection, according to Prince George's County.

The Carolina Panthers paid about $1.7 million in property taxes on the Bank of America stadium in Charlotte for 2011, the year of the most recent valuation, according to Eric Anderson, deputy director in the Mecklenburg County assessor's office.

The Panthers lease the city-owned land for $1 a year. The team paid a tax on the lease, which was about $346,246 for 2011.

In some cases, teams don't pay property taxes but they do make a payment in lieu of taxes — and that payment can be substantial. Take Foxborough, population 17,000, which gets about $2 million for payment in lieu of taxes from the New England Patriots. That payment is about 40 to 60 percent less than the amount would be if the team paid property taxes, estimated the town's finance director Randy Scollins.

The New York Giants and the New York Jets don't pay property taxes on MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The city receives a payment in lieu of property taxes — about $7.2 million through the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority.

Giménez said the Miami Dolphins "are the only NFL team in the entire nation that pays property taxes." That's not accurate. We rate this claim False.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

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