The Real Deal Miami

Lawmaker pushes for Florida sports arenas to house homeless on off nights

January 25, 2012 03:00PM

If Sen. Mike Bennett had his way the American Airlines Arena would double as a homeless shelter

A little-known Florida law could have such a massive impact on Miami’s 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 nearly $275 million in funds they’ve received from municipalities.

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. [NBC Miami]