SBD/March 19, 2013/Franchises

Ross Will Not Threaten To Move Dolphins To Gain Funding For Sun Life Renovation

Ross said Marlins Park is probably hurting public support for renovation funding
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross said that he "won’t be expressly or implicitly threatening relocation in order to get a public contribution toward the renovation effort" to Sun Life Stadium, according to Mike Florio of PRO FOOTBALL TALK. Ross said, "Having been brought up in South Florida and loving the Dolphins I would find that very hard to do. I mean, some times when you’re dealing with adversity and people are giving you a hard time you say, ‘Hey I’m not bound to stay here.’ But really I’m not threatening anybody. The Dolphins belong in South Florida and they are going to stay in South Florida?” Florio wrote that is "good news for Dolphins fans, but perhaps bad news for the effort to get Dolphins and non-Dolphins fans alike to support the effort to raise local hotel taxes by one percent." Ross "obviously believes they should." Ross: "I’m prepared to put a lot of money into [the renovations]. But I think everywhere you see a new stadium you see the public supporting it. And that is one thing [that] has not been supported in Miami. They did the Marlins stadium and that’s probably one of the major reasons we’re having problems" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 3/18). Ross added, “That stadium really needed some help, and I think you have to really enhance fan experience to bring them out to the stadium because it is so good at home today. So I think it was very, very important for South Florida, being such an aspirational city and growing and really becoming one of the great cities in America, that it has a first-class stadium. We put together a plan that I'm very excited about (that) more or less take that stadium and make it a new stadium, a very iconic stadium putting a canopy on it." The Dolphins have had trouble selling tickets in recent years, and Ross said the "easiest way to fill up a stadium is to have a winning team year in and year out" ("PFT," NBC Sports Network, 3/18).

BIG-GAME HUNTER
: In Miami, Armando Salguero notes it has "become clear" to Ross there the only way the Dolphins land Super Bowl L is if the team wins "approval to upgrade Sun Life Stadium." Ross yesterday said, "The question is can we get approved. I do know without a renovated or modernized stadium, Miami is not going to get Super Bowls." Ross said that the upgrades to Sun Life Stadium would "make the facility feel like new." He "definitely thinks South Florida will get more bang for the buck than New Orleans got from its post-Katrina upgrades" to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (MIAMI HERALD, 3/19). In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin notes a stadium upgrade has been Ross' "main off-the-field concern" this offseason. But Ross is "planning stadium upgrades," whether or not "the referendum passes" to raise the hotel tax. The vote is "likely to be held in May, right before NFL owners vote on the location of Super Bowl 50." He said that Sun Life Stadium will have "high-density Internet access." Ross: "Cellphones will work in the stadium, and you’ll be able to do a lot of the streaming and multi-tasking" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/19).

WELCOME TO THE 305: In Ft. Lauderdale, Omar Kelly writes the Dolphins have been the "most aggressive and active NFL team during free agency, remodeling the team's roster." The Dolphins already have spent $185M in "total value of the deals luring five players, and re-signing five members of last year's team." What "scares the rest of the NFL is that Miami still has another $19-20 million to spend on free agents, and the team's 10 draft picks" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/19). The POST's Volin writes there is "no question that Ross is excited about the future of both" QB Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins, who "made a flurry of moves in free agency." Ross: "You can see where the NFL is going -- it’s about speed and passing game and explosiveness and excitement, and you can see that’s what we’re developing. I don’t think we’re done" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/19). In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda writes the Dolphins' "tactic has been to be a big element in the free-agent marketplace." They chose to "spend, largely, on replacements rather than holdovers." Stoda: "But did the Dolphins get better? It’s the all-in risk of such a substantial plan." The man who "deserves credit" for the Dolphins' new look is GM Jeff Ireland, who has been "much maligned through the years." He has been the "point man on the imports and exports" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/19). Ross said, "I don't go out there and say, ‘Hey, I want this guy or I want that guy.’ You listen to your football people, and they thought this was the time. They put together a great plan and I've been encouraging them, ‘Hey guys, let's make moves, it's time to win’" ("PFT," NBC Sports Network, 3/18).

TICKET SALES LUKEWARM: The HERALD's Salguero writes fans' early reaction at the ticket window "has been lukewarm to the Dolphins’ so-far impressive offseason talent-grab in free agency." So the "ticket-buying crowd is still in show-me mode." But Dolphins' brass at yesterday's NFL owners meeting were "full of energy." Salguero: "Try as they might, the possibility of a Super Bowl reared its head." Ross: “If you don’t think that’s what our goal is and the only reason why we’re putting this team together, you’re nuts. But when it’s going to happen, no one is making any predictions." Salguero writes the Dolphins must "impress their fans before even one game is played to get them to turn out and vote in favor of upgrading Sun Life Stadium." Happy fans, "obviously, can be enthusiastic voters." Ross said, "We didn’t do this and sign these players to win a vote. They’re totally independent acts" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/19).

SEE YOU IN CANTON: The NFL today announced the Dolphins and Cowboys will compete in the annual Pro Football HOF game on Aug. 4. Three members of this year’s HOF class have ties to the teams -- Larry Allen played for the Cowboys from '94-'05, Cris Carter played for the Dolphins in '02 and Bill Parcells coached the Cowboys for four years before joining the Dolphins' front office for three seasons (THE DAILY). This will mark the “fourth time the Dolphins will play in the game” and the fifth for the Cowboys (MIAMIHERALD.com, 3/19).
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