SBD/Issue 100/Franchises

Huizenga Reflects On 19 Years Of South Florida Sports Ownership

Huizenga Planning To Get Back Into Business
World, But Will Not Rule Out Return To Sports
Former Dolphins, Marlins and NHL Panthers Owner Wayne Huizenga yesterday reflected on "leaving behind nearly two decades of sports ownership," during which "no one has had more sway over the course of sports in South Florida," according to Sarah Talalay of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Huizenga, speaking publicly for the first time since selling 95% of the Dolphins to Stephen Ross last month, said, "I know I'll have regrets, and I know I will miss it. But I felt after 19 years you know there's a little song out there, 'You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.'" Those who worked with Huizenga during the '90s said that he "didn't set out to change the region's sports landscape," but when the "opportunities arose, he seized them as he's always done." Huizenga "shepherded the Marlins and the Panthers hockey team into existence" and was the "influential mover behind" the Panthers' BankAtlantic Center. However, Huizenga yesterday for the first time acknowledged that he "shouldn't have dismantled" the Marlins in the offseason following the team's '97 World Series title "in order to sell the team." Huizenga said of owning a sports franchise, "You want to treat your customers and fans on a business-like basis, but what you really have to do is win those games. And that's not really what it is in normal business." Huizenga "didn't rule out entering sports again" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/11). Huizenga: "I would never say never to anything. You never know what the opportunities are going to be in the future. ... My plan now is to get back into the business world" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/11). Huizenga yesterday said that he is "pulling for the Marlins to get their new stadium deal completed so they will remain in South Florida" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/11).

FOOTING THE BILL: Huizenga indicated that hiring Dolphins Exec VP/Football Operations Bill Parcells in December '07 was "his best" decision while owning the team. Parcells originally had a 30-day window to opt out of his contract if Huizenga sold the franchise, but Huizenga said that he "acted three weeks before the sale to make the escape clause open-ended, explaining that he didn't want Parcells to feel pressured." Huizenga: "It was the right thing to do. It was good for Bill, good for Steve and good for the Dolphins. We want to see Bill stay" (PALM BEACH POST, 2/11). Huizenga added Parcells is "good for the Dolphins and obviously they proved themselves with the year they had this year." More Huizenga: "It does benefit the team because Bill; now he has no reason to leave. He's not forced to make a decision in a short period of time. He'll have plenty of time to stay as long as he wants to stay." Huizenga said that before changing the opt-out clause to an open-ended option, he consulted with Parcells, Ross, Dolphins President & COO Bryan Wiedmeier and Exec VP/Business & Administration Bill Pierce (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/11).

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