Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross and CEO Mike Dee met with Sun Sentinel editors and reporters this morning. Here are some of their answers to some of your questions:
Q. A number of fans really don’t like the new fight song, they don’t like the T-Pain version. A lot of people don’t like hearing Jimmy Buffett’s Fins when the team scores.
A. Ross: A lot of people do like the Fins song. The thing is you don’t know what people like and you don’t get a feeling for impact until you try something. We’re experimenting. That ‘s what preseason is for. I think Jimmy Buffett will definitely be part of it, he’s not going away. We happen to like the song, we’ve gotten a tremendous amount of favorable comments with regard to that. I think the T-Pain version was controversial. You have to realize, people inherently don’t like change. Same old, same old.
Q. I’ve never heard so many people love that fight song until you changed it.
A. Ross: Isn't it unbelievable? The biggest surprise I’ve ever seen in my life. You have the same feeling I have, you have to look at change. We’re not done looking at ideas to do that, because there was so much negativity about the existing fight song before.
Dee: Basically T-Pain contributed that song, we played it at the first preseason game. Again it was a preseason game, we were experimenting and continue to experiment there are at least two other people I know of, who want to contribute their own version of the fight song, different than T-Pain’s. It wasn’t the old song out and T-Pain’s in. I think it was hey here’s a version that may appeal to a different listener and perhaps there will be two more that have a different flair as well. I think it’s fair to say we recognize the sacred nature of the original version.
Q. Old fight song, it’s not like it’s dead, you’ll still be playing it, but might be interspersing it with others?
A. Dee: It might have a different role. Before it was played exclusively after scores. And we’re still working on how it will be used.
Ross: But we want to start a ritual, we don’t know what song it will be, after the third period, there will be a song we’ll sing on a continual basis. I can’t tell you what that song will be. To inspire people, like the seventh inning stretch, and really inspire the team. You want to start that in football, you want to do after the third period in every game. We’re going to come up with one until we find the right song, that we sing and everybody’s ready for it at the end of the third period, kind of a ritualistic thing that I think will be interesting in football.
Q. Do you have plans to change the team colors and uniforms?
A. Ross: We haven’t even looked at that. I haven’t thought of it.
Dee: Not this year and we just missed the deadline for 2010, so not next year either.
Q. Would you consider selling pieces of the team to retired Dolphins player greats?
A. Ross: No.
Q. Why not sell a one share to the fans or season ticket holders? I don't think you can do that in the NFL.
A. Ross: That isn’t allowed in the NFL, you’re limited to I think 25 owners and it’s not the kind of thing [where] you want a public company. They don’t allow public companies. Someone has to be able to make all the decisions without going to a board or anybody else, which I think is good, because that way you get decisions made. You don’t have fights within different teams which certain sports have, you know divisions. I’m prepared to take all the blame, but still the fans we love them and they’re the most important thing we have. I want to make sure they feel good about the team.
Q. Is there any way you could make ticket prices cheaper? Is there an opportunity to offer a standing room seat? At the Cowboys new stadium, the cheapest seats are $25.
A. Dee: We’re one of the best values in the NFL. Our ticket pricing is in I think the lower third of all teams, we have currently 4,600 seats that cost $31, which is one of the lowest price points in the NFL. That’s per seat, not a standing room seat. We are looking at standing room, kind of irrespective of costs, we think standing room is good and is part of our evaluation of the facility moving forward. We’ll continue to be competitive with the South Florida marketplace and what entertainment experiences are out there and you know overtime we want to make sure we stay competitively priced, given the dynamic of our marketplace.
Q. Is there any ability or talk of moving some seats closer to the field? That’s what people miss about the Orange Bowl.
A. Ross: That’s one of the things we’re looking at. This year with the Sideline Club (passes that allow on-field access throughout the game, new this season) they’re going to be closer to the field. We are studying it. I think when we come up with a total package, I think we can really have a major impact on the stadium.
Q. Is there anything that can be done about the dirt infield, until the Marlins are gone?
A. Ross: We have two more seasons of that. There’s nothing you can do. Contractually we’re obligated.
Dee: We have made the effort over the last couple of years, our grounds crew has sodded the pitcher’s mound area, and we’ve sodded the west endzone corner, which used to be exposed on that terrible rubber warning track, we do that for preseason games, took the turf down. It’s pretty much what it is until they’re gone.
Q. What about a retractable roof at Land Shark Stadium?
A. Ross: We’re studying all that, I don’t think it would be a retractable roof, because I don’t think one, the cost. I don’t think the county, in these economic times has the money and I think the cost of acclimatizing a stadium is so expensive and for the amount of usage it would get it’s probably not feasible. It probably doesn’t need a retractable roof from a football standpoint or soccer. But one thing we’re looking at, is how to do we really improve the stadium and cover some of those issues, not having a roof.
Q. Does that mean some sort of covering over some areas?
A. Ross: Yes.