SBD/July 18, 2013/Franchises

Mike Dee Leaving Dolphins For Return To Padres, Will Serve As President & CEO

Dee (l) in his first tenure with the Padres helped in building Petco Park
The Padres yesterday named Dolphins CEO Mike Dee President & CEO. Dee previously spent eight seasons with the Padres from '95-'02 (Padres). Padres Exec Chair Ron Fowler said, "Mike will become the face and voice of this organization." In San Diego, Bill Center notes Fowler and Padres lead investor Peter Seidler decided to "search for a new President and CEO six weeks ago when they came to the conclusion that they and [former President & CEO Tom] Garfinkel could not agree on 'how to build the team and progress.'" Fowler said that the deal with Dee "was finalized last Friday." Dee participated in the "financial planning and construction of Petco Park in addition to working with" then-President & CEO Larry Lucchino to "strengthen the Padres' ties to the business community." Fowler said that Dee and the owners "like the Padres' 'senior management group' in place" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/18). Seidler said, "Mike was the top person on our list. The gap between Mike and No. 2 was big." MLB.com's Corey Brock noted Dee's previous tenure featured the "planting of the palm trees that lined the outfield at Qualcomm Stadium, incorporating different logos and having unique promotions that helped attract crowds in excess of 50,000, particularly in 1996." Dee also "spearheaded efforts in developing strong ties and programs to the Hispanic community in San Diego, Tijuana and Baja California" (MLB.com, 7/17). In Miami, Beasley & Hanks note though Dee held the title of CEO, he "did not have full control of the Dolphins operation," with team Owner Stephen Ross giving GM Jeff Ireland "authority over player decisions." Dee was "in charge of the team's marketing, business and political operations." Sources said that the Padres position "offers a more traditional CEO position, with responsibility for the business operations and athletics" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/18).

STADIUM STRUGGLES NOT AN ISSUE: In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis notes the bid for public funding to modernize Sun Life Stadium that Dee spearheaded "died in the Florida Senate in May." Dee said that the "failure to bring the stadium project to fruition was not a factor in his departure." He added that it had "no impact at all on this decision." A source said that the Dolphins already have "identified candidates to replace Dee and will begin conducting interviews next week." The source added that the hire "could come by the beginning of the regular season." Turnkey Sports & Entertainment will "lead this search." Dee's successor will "play a vital role in driving the future of the franchise." While the Dolphins have "struggled on the field and at the turnstiles during Dee's tenure with the season-ticket base dropping to about 40,000, he strengthened the team's business partnerships, brokered the stadium naming-rights deal and spearheaded community relations and philanthropic efforts." He also put an "emphasis on reconnecting the franchise with its storied past." But Dee has expressed "deep disappointment about the inability to obtain public funding for renovations" to Sun Life Stadium (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/18). The MIAMI HERALD's Beasley & Hanks note Dee is credited with "helping revive the Dolphins' visibility in Miami-Dade after years of a Broward focus" under former Owner Wayne Huizenga. South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Chair Rodney Barreto said, "I thought he was a really good face of the Dolphins. He put the Miami back in the Miami Dolphins." Sources involved in the team's stadium campaign said that they "understood Dee's job might be in jeopardy if the plan didn't win approval" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/18). But Dee said that he "didn't feel his job was on the line." He said of leaving the Dolphins, "This was a decision that was mine" (PALM BEACH POST, 7/18).
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