We’ll learn a lot more at Friday’s press conference that promises Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, Jimmy Buffett, “high profile sports personalities,” and a live music performance.
But the possibility of a short-term naming deal – perhaps a season – of LandShark Stadium is certainly intriguing and well, unusual. The name comes from LandShark Lager, the Anheuser-Busch-brewed beer that is produced in partnership with Buffett and his Margaritaville restaurant enterprise.
If you’re thinking it’s all about money, think again. Yes, it’s about some money, but not nearly the $10 million to $15 million that Dolphin Stadium officials would love to score for a new corporate name.
So, why change the name even for a short time at the risk of further alienating fans? The venue was Joe Robbie Stadium when it opened in 1987, named for its original owner who put together the private financing plan to build it. In 1996, it became Pro Player Stadium -- and remained that way years after the apparel company’s parent, Fruit of the Loom, filed for bankruptcy in 1999. It became Dolphins Stadium in 2005; the ‘s’ was dropped in 2006. Many fans still call it Joe Robbie; others like Dolphin Stadium for its connection to the team.
Dolphin Stadium officials weren’t commenting Friday, but what it seems LandShark is meant to do is aid in Ross’ plan to create an entertaining South Florida feel to the stadium. While we don’t know the financial terms of the deal, it’s expected Buffett will perform concerts at the venue with proceeds going to the stadium. A Margaritaville section or area of the stadium has also been contemplated.
There are reports Buffett has been approached about becoming a limited partner in the team, but this sounds more like a business deal. Perhaps Buffett will be called a limited partner as part of this arrangement, but it seems unlikely Buffett would spend the cash Ross has been seeking from potential investors. Ross is believed to have been asking $25 million for a 2.5 percent stake in the team.
Surely UM, which also wasn’t commenting Friday, must have paused when hearing about Ross’ plans for LandShark Stadium. After all, the school, which has tried to shed it’s Suntan U. image, was named the nation’s No. 1 party school by Playboy last month. Playing football in a stadium named for a beer couldn’t be high on the school’s things to do list, but apparently school officials have accepted it.
It’s likely this is a short-term deal so that Ross can infuse some South Florida lifestyle into the stadium experience while he waits for the economy to recover. Then, stadium officials can try peddling the name again.
Don’t be surprised if Buffett is song writing, perhaps a new version of Fins that honors the football team, rather than those hungry women-stalking male “landsharks”:
And just for kicks and since I’ve been receiving messages about that other “landshark,” enjoy this piece of SNL history: