In a wide-ranging interview with reporters, including Dolphins beat writer Alex Marvez, at the NFL owners meeting in Arizona this week, Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga spoke about renovations to Dolphin Stadium and the reasons for raising some club seat prices more than 200 percent.
Huizenga said he hopes renovations of the ground and club levels will be completed by September. You can view images, including time-lapse video of the construction, at the Dolphin Stadium website.
“The plaza level is going to be pretty neat. That big overhang was created, now you have a lot of shade, a lot of things out there,” Huizenga said. “We decided it’s going to open up four hours before games. That will replace a lot of tailgating. People can still tailgate if they want, but there’ll be a lot more things to do and a good place to do it.”
The $250 million renovation already includes vastly widened concourses on the stadium’s north and south sides. Bars, lounges and other amenities will be added.
“We’re putting in bathrooms on both sides of the main entranceway on both sides of the building, so four new bathrooms going in there. There will be bathrooms outside for the first time,” Huizenga said. “What we used to refer to as Sportstown will be a much bigger, better, nicer out there. Hopefully most of that stuff gets done by September.”
The improvements are part of what drove the team’s decision to increase club seat prices. Club seat holders who have held 10-year contracts that expired after last season, are seeing significant increases. For some, prices of $187 a game are rising to $500 a game, and some club seat holders are not renewing.
But Huizenga said club seat holders were given a break because their prices rose only marginally through the first 20 years at the stadium and he hopes the new amenities and the creation of a special club will convince them to renew.
“What we’re going to deliver is a whole new club (level),” Huizenga said. “The experience is going to be 1,000 percent better than what it was before. We’re pretty excited about the club level. We want people to really get focused on it.”
Huizenga pointed to the Heat, where bigger spenders have access to exclusive clubs, such as the Flagship Lounges, at AmericanAirlines Arena. He said club level ticket-holders will become part of an exclusive “club.”
“And when they go there, they’re treated like you are at a golf club. You’re a member of the golf club, you get to do certain things,” Huizenga said. “Once people see what we’re going to deliver, I think a lot of the people who had decided, ‘Maybe I won’t re-sign,’ after they see that they’re going to say ‘Yeah, OK, I’m back.’ That’s my opinion.
“They are going to have to pay for the experience, but the experience is going to be world class. I mean, it’s going to be first class. And when you go there, it’s like going to Augusta (National). It’s something special to be in there.”
Huizenga also reopened the idea of selling naming rights to the stadium or sections of the venue.
“You can see the stadium construction going on. Now it’s time for us to see what the market is,” Huizenga said. “There are different schools of thought. You either name the whole building or different parts. We’ll just explore both alternatives.”
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