Opinion

Staff Editorial 1/30: Stadiums as shelters unreasonable ideal

More than two decades ago, a Florida Senate committee passed a bill that was meant to allow hundreds of homeless people in Florida to spend the night in lavish stadiums. Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it – neither have most Floridians.

Twenty-three years ago, a bill was approved by the Senate that ordered publicly-funded stadiums to transform into homeless shelters when they were not in use for events, according to an article from NBC 6 Miami. Down in Miami, this includes the homes of the Heat, Marlins and Dolphins. This means that some of Miami’s indigents would be standing in line for hours waiting to lie down and take a snooze on a basketball court, football field or a baseball diamond.

Yes, this lets us assume that the homeless would also be receiving Miami Heat, Marlins and Dolphins schedules along with concerts and other events so they know when their homes are available. One question: Where should these schedules be mailed?

It seems like this idea is just the legislature’s way of cleaning up the streets in Downtown Miami and making sports franchises look greedy. Think again.

These stadiums may be publicly funded, but they do not operate on government money alone. Senator Mike Bennett, an advocate of the bill,  pointed out that this bill has never been enforced, but he might be taking it too far, in our opinion. He wants publicly-funded stadiums across Florida to cough up the $275 million that they have received from the state in the last 20 years if they cannot prove that they’ve been operating as a part-time homeless refuge.

The bill, which unanimously passed its first committee meeting in the Senate on Jan. 23, still has a long way to go before it becomes law. But in reality, what will this bill solve? Nothing.

Stadiums and arenas are constantly being used for sports games, concerts and events that take hired workers a day or more to prep for. Homeless people may get to use them once in a while, but the truth is that they still may have to go back to looking for a safe place to sleep fairly often.

Punishing sports franchises for the benefit of the homeless in Florida is not the solution, and neither is turning stadiums into homeless shelters on off-nights.

The government should be focusing on allotting money to build long-term shelters that help provide job opportunities for these homeless people, rather than trying to find a temporary solution to a permanent problem.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

January 29, 2012

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.