SBD/September 5, 2013/NFL Season Preview

Dolphins' Ross Defends $200M Alma Mater Donation After Seeking Stadium Funding

Ross says his gift to UM is in no way related to stadium funding issue
Many South Florida residents see Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross' $200M donation to the Univ. of Michigan "as a thumb in the eye," according to Beasley & Mazzei of the MIAMI HERALD. In the wake of Ross' efforts to secure $350M in public funding for upgrades to Sun Life Stadium, reaction among Dolphins fans is largely to ask why Ross cannot "pay for the stadium repairs himself" if he can afford the donation. Ross said, "They are very different subjects, and I think it is important to be committed to both. As I've often said, I've promised to pay a large portion of the stadium upgrade costs but, the community who would substantially benefit also needs to be involved." Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo said, "I don't really see a correlation between the two. He and his staff and people made a calculation to go after public money. They had their justifications, according to them, to do it, and others had different opinions" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/5). In West Palm Beach, Andrew Abramson notes the donation "led to an outcry on the Internet and on sports-talk radio" (PALM BEACH POST, 9/5). ESPN.com's James Walker wrote the donation "may rub some Dolphins fans in South Florida the wrong way." But, "right or wrong, don't expect" Ross' donation to "sit well with many Florida residents and perhaps the state legislature if the Dolphins seek public funding again next year" (ESPN.com, 9/4). 

BIGGER & BLUER: UM AD Dave Brandon said that he "began speaking to Ross two years ago about his vision for the athletics campus, including 16 projects, with three currently ongoing." He added of the project's estimated price tag of $350M, "We've spent this money and more." Brandon said that the renovation of Schembechler Hall, which contains the football offices, and training and weight rooms, will be "completed by next spring." In Detroit, Angelique Chengelis notes a softball building "currently is under construction and improvements to the field hockey stadium are next." Brandon would "like to have all of the facilities done within the next 10 years." Among the remaining improvements are "to the golf clubhouse, lacrosse and aquatics facilities, and a competition arena for gymnastics, wrestling and volleyball" (DETROIT NEWS, 9/5). Also in Detroit, Laura Berman writes, "For all the fabulousness these gifts portend, they are also exclusive, directed solely toward future moguls and managers, football players and star athletes." The $100M athletic donation "will benefit a few hundred athletes on a campus of more than 42,000 students." Berman: "No future doctors, engineers, biologists, teachers or social workers will likely be touched by Ross’ beneficence" (DETROIT NEWS, 9/5).
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