Two Florida lawmakers are calling for sports stadiums to open their gates to the homeless when not being used for events.
They’ve dug deep into the statutes to find a little-known law that calls for professional sports facilities built with the help of government dollars to house the homeless on nights that the stadiums would otherwise be unused.
Sen. Michael Bennett (R-Bradenton) and Rep. Frank Artiles (R-Miami) are pushing legislation that would make owners of sports facilities refund money received from the state if they can’t prove that they have served as shelters and begin operating as shelters.
Additional fines would be levied until a homeless shelter is operating on the site.
If a local homeless program does not exist in the county where the facility is located, the county commission would establish one to oversee the operation of the shelter site.
So far, Florida has spent more than $271 million to help construct 18 sports facilities around the state, according to an analysis.