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Tag:Senator Michael Bennett
Posted on: January 25, 2012 2:45 pm
 

Florida teams owe debt for not housing homeless?

Joe Robbie Stadium: Not enough bums, apparently. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

It's not that uncommon to hear players on bad sports teams referred to as "bums," but it could take on a whole new meaning if Senate Bill 816 in Florida is approved. The bill is designed to make sports teams in Florida give back any money they received from public funds, on the grounds that said teams cannot prove they were housing homeless people in the stadium during nights off.

No, you read that right: according to the Miami Herald, when the Florida legislature passed a bill in 1988 to get public money for stadiums, they worked a provision into the bill that requires Florida sports teams like the Buccaneers, Jaguars, Dolphins, Rays and Heat -- as well as teams like the Phillies and Mets who hold spring training in Florida -- to house homeless people in their stadiums on non-event nights.

"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 Sen. Michael Bennett, R-Bradenton.  "I can not believe that we’re going to cut money out of Medicaid and take it away from the homeless and take it away from the poor and impoverished, and we’re continuing to support people who are billionaires."

Teams/stadiums are allowed to take up to $2 million per year according to the law. According to the Herald, Joe Robbie Stadium, built in 1994, leads the way with over $37 million taken from public coffers, with the Jaguars second at $35,166,737 and the Bucs sixth at just over $30 million. The Heat have also taken more than $27 million. And the grand total for all teams is $271,539,778.

But wait! There's more! Senator Bennett put another amendment in Senate Bill 816 that won't sit well with NFL teams: every game that was blacked would result in a fine to the franchise of $125,000, which would be used to purchase tickets to games for "foster children, active military members on leave and the less fortunate."

Senate Bill 816 already cleared the Community Affairs Committee and now must pass three more committees before heading for Senate floor. It seems unlikely that such a bill would pass, or that these franchises would cough up $300 million back the community.

But, hey, you never know. Politicians are crazier than any group of athletes. And it could ultimately end up explaining why the Bucs signed Albert Haynesworth.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com