Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross is working hard to put his “imprint” on his football team by enhancing the Dolphin Stadium experience for fans. Ross is hoping his changes and new amenities at the stadium – which he’s keeping under wraps for now – will encourage fans to leave the comfort of their homes and High Definition TVs on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights this season.
“You’re going to see a new look, a new excitement,” Ross said Thursday.
In his first lengthy meeting with the media since taking majority ownership of the Dolphins in January, Ross said he’s close to signing contracts to add amenities at the stadium. Other than saying the changes will reflect the entertainment and lifestyle of South Florida, he wouldn’t reveal any of his plans. He says we should hear more next month.
“The three most dynamic cities in the United States are New York, Los Angeles and Miami and Miami has the benefit of the best weather. So it gives you an opportunity to do things you can’t otherwise do anywhere else,” Ross said. “I think a lot of things weren’t done in the past to really take advantage of Miami… South Florida, of what you can really create and do. So it’s kind of fun to try and put these pieces together to create a great experience for the fans.”
While the stadium has undergone a $250 million renovation, Ross said he has more changes planned. He does not, however, envision developing the surrounding land, which he says is needed for parking.
“It’s how you create the experience around the stadium and make the stadium more iconic. Those are the types of things I’m looking at,” Ross said. “I have ideas for that stadium, I don’t think it’s done being improved. It’s a work in process. You’ll see it this year. We’ll be spending money this year and doing things that are somewhat unique.”
He wouldn’t discuss his talks with potential limited partners in the team, other than to say he plans an ownership group that reflects the diversity of South Florida. He also spoke of wanting to reach out more to Hispanic fans and is starting that soon with a new Spanish-language team Web site.
“Pittsburgh has one, San Diego has one. How can Miami not have a Hispanic Web site?” Ross said.
He said he’s excited about Dolphin Stadium hosting both the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl next year and he hopes to make the stadium a regular stop – every four years – for the Super Bowl.
Ross said he hasn’t yet discussed a new lease for the Marlins, whose lease at Dolphin Stadium expires next year, before their ballpark is set to open in 2012. But he knows the team needs a place to play.
“What am I going to do? All of a sudden they can’t play there?” Ross said. “They’re a utility like we are. You have to respect that. We’re not going to squeeze them or anything.”