The one-year mark of Steve Ross taking control of the Dolphins from H. Wayne Huizenga didn’t pass quietly this week. Ross was overseas, but on Wednesday his stadium got its second new name of the year: Sun Life Stadium.
It’s been an eventful –- emphasis on the event -- year for Ross’ Dolphins and his stadium. Remember, it was Jan. 20, 2009 when Huizenga made sure the papers finalizing the $1.1 billion sale were signed just hours before President Barack Obama’s inauguration -- as something of a symbolic gesture in case Obama raised capital gains taxes.
Ross promised he’d jazz up the entertainment experience for fans at the stadium then called Dolphin Stadium. In May, he began that transformation signing a cash-less naming rights/marketing partnership with Jimmy Buffett’s Land Shark Lager for the 2009 season. The announcement came complete with a short Buffett concert, hundreds of Parrot Heads and a new version of Buffett’s hit Fins written specifically for the Dolphins. Bringing brand new meaning to “Fins to the Left…”
This week, the stadium got its second new name in a year – make that three, if you count the two weeks it reverted to Dolphin Stadium between the Orange Bowl on Jan. 5 and the Sun Life announcement on Wednesday.
So, a short by the numbers:
6 World Baseball Classic games: the stadium was host to round two games in March
6 limited partners: Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Marc Anthony (and by marriage his wife Jennifer Lopez), Venus and Serena Williams, Fergie. (Asked whether more limited partners could be brought on board, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said, “I wouldn’t say it’s an active pursuit. We continue to keep an open mind toward additional partners. But it’s not a high priority.”)
2 stadium names: Land Shark, Sun LIfe
2 press conference concerts: Buffett’s to introduce Land Shark in May; KC & the Sunshine Band’s booty shaking serenade to introduce Sun Life on Wednesday. (Dee said KC wasn’t likely to become a limited partner, but “he could be a promotional partner.”)
1 new (much maligned) fight song: Can you forget T Pain’s autotune version of the old song?
1 new theme song: Buffett’s revamped Fins, which is played every time the team scores -- and then some. (Dee said Buffett’s song is here to stay. “What was important about the Land Shark involvement wasn’t necessarily the name on the building, but the vibe, if you will, in the stadium, the theme areas.”)
1 artist: Romero Britto’s neo pop art graces the helixes and gates at the stadium.
0 playoff appearances: Both the Dolphins and Marlins missed the postseason.
1 World Cup finalist site: The stadium was included this month among 18 in the U.S. bid to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022.
2 (at least) stadium dissings by the NFL: Both NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Senior Vice President of Special Events Frank Supovitz told the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee and community leaders the 23-year-old venue needs upgrades to keep it competitive with other stadiums across the country vying to host future Super Bowls.