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Florida Arenas Must House the Homeless…or Pay Up

An old Florida statute requiring federally funded sports arenas to house the homeless on nights when no official events are scheduled has been resurrected after 23 years. The two Florida lawmakers leading the charge are Sen. Michael Bennett and Rep. Frank Artiles who pushed the bill that would force stadium owners to return millions of dollars to taxpayers if they cannot prove they’ve been following the guidelines while receiving funds. “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 they can pay for their own stadium,” said Bennett. “I cannot believe that we’re going to cut money out of Medicaid and take it away from homeless and take it away from the poor and impoverished, and we’re continuing to support people who are billionaires.” The bill passed through the first committee hearing on Monday with a unanimous vote.

Several Florida stadiums have benefited from federal funds, including the American Airlines Arena (the official home of the Miami Heat) and the recently-built Miami Marlins stadium that cost $642 million to build and was funded mostly by taxpayers. A spokesperson for the Miami Heat said the AAA has never operated as a homeless shelter “due to the intensity of arena activity and physical layout and the fact that the Arena is in a flood and evacuation zone.”

Should LeBron's house serve as a shelter when between games? Should more states enforce similar rules or reconsider the millions spent on sports when those in need are being ignored?

 

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