SBD/January 15, 2013/Facilities

Dolphins Pledging To Pay For Half Of Stadium Renovation; Bringing Back Canopy Plan

Upgrades to the stadium would take about one year to complete
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross “unveiled an ambitious plan to make aging Sun Life Stadium as good as new and vowed on Monday to pay more than half of the cost,” according to Craig Davis of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The Dolphins are “banking on the benefits of attracting events" such as Super Bowls, college football championships, int'l soccer and the Pan Am Games to "overcome lingering resentment" from the Marlins' stadium deal. The plan “revives the idea of putting an open-air canopy roof over the seating areas.” The stands would be “extended 18 feet closer to each of the football sidelines and add 3,700 seats to the lower bowl.” Wider, more comfortable seats “would be among the improvements for fans, and giant high-definition video boards would be added atop the four corners of the upper deck.” Asked why he will not pay for the entire project, Ross said, "I think I've made a bigger commitment than any other person in professional sports in the United States. You have a limit to how much capital you can put into something." Davis notes there is a “sense of urgency in pushing the project with South Florida in competition for the 50th Super Bowl with San Francisco.” NFL owners will vote May 22 to “award the milestone game in 2016 as well as the 2017 Super Bowl” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/15). Ross said, “The dollar amounts I’m prepared to put in are probably unmatched compared to any comparable facility in the country.” He added that in exchange for public funding, the Dolphins would “sign a contract pledging to stay in Sun Life for almost three decades” (MIAMI HERALD, 1/15).

DETAILS OF THE REVAMP: Project architect Kent McLaughlin said that the renovation “would take a little more than a year to complete.” In Miami, Adam Beasley notes work on the facility “would conflict with at least one football season but would not prevent the Dolphins from playing their home games at Sun Life Stadium.” Ross said of hosting the Super Bowl in ’16, “I want 50. It’s the marquee game. If we get this done, we’ll get the Super Bowl.” He said if the renovations are not done, “I don’t think we get it.” Beasley writes the “looming Super Bowl decision gives the Dolphins a convenient deadline, which they hope will create a sense of urgency in the statehouse and in county hall” (MIAMI HERALD, 1/15). Ross said that unlike the Marlins, he “would be willing to make available his team’s financial records.” Ross: “You can look at them. We believe in transparency. When you open it up, you get a lot more accomplished in life. ... I told the NFL they should have opened their books.” Ross said that the Dolphins are “modestly profitable.” He said that he is “waiting to see if this project will go forward before deciding whether to proceed with longstanding plans for a water park across from Sun Life Stadium.” Ross: “We’ll look into the water park (regardless), but it’s best to do it together” (MIAMI HERALD, 1/15).

CHOOSING WORDS CAREFULLY: In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin writes Ross and Dolphins CEO Mike Dee’s message yesterday was, “We’re not the Marlins.” Without referencing the baseball team directly, Ross and Dee said that they “understand the furor over the recent Marlins Park deal.” Dee said, “We recognize the public certainly has a feeling about the deals that have been done in the recent past in respect to stadiums and ballparks, and we have to approach this differently” (PALM BEACH POST, 1/15). Meanwhile, Univ. of Miami AD Blake James yesterday said that the school “plans to reduce capacity for many of its football games at Sun Life Stadium if the proposed stadium ‘modernization’ goes forward.” James said that capacity for UM games under the proposal “would be 72,000 for marquee games, but 52,000 for other games” (MIAMI HERALD, 1/15). In Ft. Lauderdale, Omar Kelly cited Dolphins officials’ statements from the renovation announcement (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 1/14).

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: In Ft. Lauderdale, Michael Mayo writes Ross “seemed reasonable,” and much of yesterday's pitch “seemed palatable.” Mayo: “But I still can't shake the sense this is just plain wrong. … I don't see why Miami-Dade politicians or the Legislature should bite” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/15). In Miami, Armando Salguero writes the Dolphins are “making this request right smack in the middle of the team's worst four years.” The truth is the Dolphins' “football moves have been hindering the business side for years now” (MIAMI HERALD, 1/15). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes the Dolphins “did a fine job delivering their public pitch for public money to renovate Sun Life Stadium,” and all things considered, it “was a worthy effort.” But Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria's legacy “just makes the Dolphins' money grab infinitely more difficult in South Florida.” For a public official to “have a chance for re-election, they'll need to see the Dolphins' books” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/15). FOXSPORTSFLORIDA.com’s Charlie McCarthy wrote asking a community “to invest in a fair deal for both sides can make sense.” People who think the NFL is “bluffing and that Miami always will be in the Super Bowl rotation should think again” (FOXSPORTSFLORIDA.com, 1/14). In Ft. Lauderdale, Gary Stein writes Sun Life Stadium “isn’t bad, but could probably use a little updating, and a few more amenities.” But the price tag of $400M “won’t fly.” Stein: “Nor should it” (SUNSENTINEL.com, 1/15).
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