Two giant puddles covered much of the practice field at Miami Beach Senior High School Saturday morning, underscoring the need for refurbishments that are coming thanks to $164,000 in donations from the Dolphins and team owner Steve Ross.
Ross took the official ground-breaking for the field, which was officially named Ross Field, as an opportunity to put his team on notice that he’s expecting a big year in 2010.
“I think in February we’ll be playing in the Super Bowl,” Ross said.
When it was suggested he might be putting pressure on head coach Tony Sparano, Ross said, “Put it this way, he thinks that, too. So does every player on that team. I don’t think there’s any pressure on it, we’ve just got to go out and do it.”
He also told the crowd at the field ground-breaking that he hopes Chad Henne “goes down as the greatest quarterback in Miami Dolphins history.”
With training camp still ahead before the 2010 season’s start, the Dolphins tried to focus on FinsWeekend – three days of golf, fishing, and awards dinners that benefit the Dolphins Foundation.
Ross, a 1958 graduate of Miami Beach High who played tackle for the school at Flamingo Park, said after he purchased the Dolphins, he received a letter from Miami Beach High Principal Rosann Sidener asking if he’d help with the field. The request perfectly matched Ross’ desire for the Dolphins to be more involved in the community. He donated $82,000, which was matched by the Dolphins.
“It was really a no brainer, I had just bought the team, got this letter, knowing we want to participate in the community and be very active,” Ross said. “Coming from your high school, is something I couldn’t say no to as being the first one. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of letters from almost every high school and I’m sure we’ll do our share. We want to keep active in South Florida.”
The field refurbishment is to be completed in September.
“I look at the field now and say 'hey it really does need a little bit of rehabilitation.' But I also remember when I was playing football, down in Flamingo Park, and I couldn’t wait for those days to have the field flooded so we didn’t have to practice,” Ross said with a chuckle.
Ross was joined by Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower, team executives and players, including Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano and his wife Jeanette; quarterback Chad Henne, running back Tristan Davis, safety Nate Ness, fullback Rolly Lumbala, defensive back Ross Weaver and cornerback Nolan Carroll; and Dolphins alumni, Nat Moore and Dick Anderson.
“It’s pretty exciting," said Ross, who was given a red and white Beach High jersey. "It’s something I never would have anticipated in my life."
Ross wore No. 71 at Beach High, when the uniforms were black and gold, not red and white. No matter, his heart is still with his high school, but he cautioned that the field naming had nothing to do with his success at the school.
“They didn’t name the field after me for my athletic feats or my scholastic feats,” he said.
Ross was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame last year. The University of Michigan's Business School was renamed for Ross in 2004, after he made a $100 million donation to the school.