Miami Dolphin Sun Life Stadium renovation in works

Feb 19, 2013 3:00 AM

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross cleared his first hurdle in gaining public funding without a referendum to renovate Sun Life Stadium.

The Miami-Dade County commissioners voted 9-4 to add 1% to the county’s bed tax specifically for the new-look stadium. The Florida state legislature must now approve. Lobbyists are descending upon Tallahassee to ram through the effort. Ross says he will pony up half of the proposed $400 million facelift, which may well come in the form of loans from the NFL.

Supposedly the additions, which include new seating, scoreboards and a canopy protecting fans from rain and heavy sun, will jettison Miami back into the running for quasi frequent hosting of the Super Bowl a la Phoenix, Tampa, New Orleans and Dallas. Without the changes, the NFL is saying between the lines South Florida will not be a serious candidate.

The 30-year-old park, built by Joe Robbie, improved by Wayne Huizenga and now owned privately by Ross, is on the Miami/Fort Lauderdale line. When originally configured, Robbie created a bowl that would accommodate major league baseball and soccer. Until 2011, Sun Life Stadium hosted the Florida Marlins and occasional major “friendly” soccer matches.

A consequence of the fixer upper might be overall substantial increase in value of the Dolphins franchise. A once premiere brand inside the NFL, the team is now drifting into the lower third. Ross’ considerable investment purchasing the Dolphins and the stadium has been plummeting.

Ross, who is a bi-coastal super developer, also seems to be interested in the stadium project in proposal stage for Los Angeles. Local scribes postulate moving the Dolphins to a new state of the art facility in downtown LA might catapult the value of the franchise into the stratosphere. That is if local politicians don’t cooperate with his renovation request. Consequently the paranoid NFL fans in South Florida are all a twitter and backing the renovation blindly.

Ross did not approach Fort Lauderdale (Broward County) for participation in the stadium project largely because the commission there would nix it. Miami’s third world view of politics is much easier to buy and influence. The media has suggested future Super Bowl events might become Miami-Dade centric, virtually ignoring Broward.

Dolphins President Mike Dee even went so far as to threaten Super Bowl training facilities, normally at Dolphins HQ in Broward County, could be moved south into Miami-Dade.

When asked what the big hurry was, Dee stated the Dolphins were focused on hosting Super Bowl L (50), which precluded any chance for a county-wide referendum due to time constraints in (potential) construction should the deal be sealed with the Miami-Dade commission.

Long time NFL owner and Miami Cadillac dealer Norman Brahman is spearheading the opposition as he did with the Marlins new ball park. Many economists opine that Super Bowls actually have little effect on the area’s normal tourism season, as opposed to Dolphins/NFL studies showing a booming “impact.”

The Miami Herald recently did a thorough investigation of the real cost for the Marlins’ new stadium. It determined the actual cost of the $400 million stadium after calculating the bonds that come due in 2048 is $1.2 billion. Owner Jeffrey Loria’s portion of the entire cost amounts to less than 20%. Essentially, the Herald determined Miami-Dade taxpayers, who were never given an opportunity to vote on the deal, paid for the most expensive stadium ever built.

Tampa Bay

The Rays, desperately in need of a new ballpark, appear to be victims of a catch 22. The successful W/L franchise is a dud in attendance and always has been. The Rays owner says the MLB owners no longer feel Tampa Bay is a viable market. The club is hogtied by a contractual agreement with homebase St. Petersburg where Tropicana Field is situated.

The current lease nixes any chance of the team exploring relocating anywhere locally or even discussing it. The retooled team is 5-to-1 to win the AL East.

The U

Miami football coach Al Golden enticed Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley to join the staff. Coley wants to call the plays on game day, which FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher did. Golden, who recently lost OC Jedd Fish to the pros, also hired ex-FIU coach and alum Mario Cristobal to coach the Tight Ends.

Coley was Cristobal’s OC at FIU for several seasons. Together they deliver significant recruiting clout. Jimbo has now lost DC Mark Stoops and OC Coley plus QB coach Dameyune Craig. Jeremy Pruitt, ex-Crimson Tide secondary coach joined the Noles as DC.

Boys Of Summer

The new look Blue Jays in Dunedin are 15-2 to win the World Series; Viera’s Nats at 9-1; Lakeland’s Tigers 10-1; Tampa’s Yanks 14-1; Disney’s Bravos 16-1; Clearwater’s Phils 16-1; Port Charlotte’s Rays 22-1; Fort Myers BoSox 25-1; Jupiter’s Cards 25-1; Bradenton’s Pirates and Sarasota’s Orioles each 40-1 and Fort Myers’ Twins 75-1.

The Marlins (100-1) share the Jupiter camp with the Cards. For those who choose to make wagers on spring training games, among the managers who like wins are Buck Showalter (Orioles) and Davey Johnson (Nationals). Among those who couldn’t care less are Charlie Manuel (Phillies) and Jim Leyland (Tigers).

Baird Thompson and William Hutchinson bring a combined 80 years of gaming marketing and administration experience to Gaming Today. Contact them at [email protected].

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