Dolphins owner Steve Ross has no plans to move the team, but stadium renovations are essential to the future of the franchise in South Florida, team CEO Mike Dee said Tuesday.
During an appearance on the Keith Sims Show on 640 Sports, Dee reiterated Ross’s comments to Sun Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde that his interest in attempting to buy the company managing the proposed stadium in Los Angeles is a venture separate from the Dolphins.
“On his watch the Dolphins would never be relocated,” Dee said.
Dee used the question about whether Dolphins fans should be concerned the long-term stability of the team as a bridge to address the importance going ahead with the $400 million renovation of Sun Life Stadium that was proposed last week.
Ross vowed to pay more than half the cost of modernizing the stadium. The team is seeking public money through a sales tax rebate on goods and services generated at the stadium, as well as 1-cent hike in hotel bed taxes in Miami-Dade County.
Dee said that if financial support does come from Miami-Dade, the county would get preference in plans for hosting Super Bowls and college championship games.
In bidding for Super Bowls in 2016 and 2017, which will be awarded in May, Broward County is vying along with Miami-Dade to serve as the focal point for events during the week leading up to the game. The NFL has requested that a designated urban core of activities be specified in bids that are submitted.
Officials in Broward vehemently rejected a request to authorize tourist tax money when the Dolphins sought help for stadium improvements in 2011. This time the team has focused its effort in Miami-Dade.
“Miami-Dade is our partner. As such we need to do what we do as it relates to Super Bowl events and where teams stay and where NFL headquarters are and things that we can control -- it seems to be the right thing to drive as many of those things as possible to Miami-Dade County if they going to be a partner with us in keeping the stadium competitive,” Dee said.
“It doesn’t mean that value won’t go to Palm Beach and Broward counties. Fans will stay there, but the things that we can control it seems sensible should be based in Miami.”
It was reported Monday by SportsBusiness Journal that one of Ross’s companies, RSE Ventures, is among eight groups bidding for Anschutz Entertainment Group. AEG manages several stadiums and arenas, including AmericanAirlines Arena, the Miami Heat’s home, as well as the proposed football stadium in Los Angeles. That prompted concern that Ross might be interested in moving the Dolphins to L.A. if he is unable to get backing for renovation of Sun Life Stadium.
Dee said it could fall to a future Dolphins owner to address the stadium issue and determine the fate of the team if it doesn't happen soon, pointing out that Ross is 72.
“This facility cannot serve this team, the Hurricanes and the Orange Bowl for the next 25 years unless a major modernization takes place at some point. It is now or is it later?” Dee said.
“At some point you can’t modernize this facility. Somebody would be talking about a new facility, and the cost of that is well over a billion dollars based on the most recent facilities built around the country. The thought of a new facility and how that would be financed is daunting, to say the least.”
Lingering animosity over the Marlins’ ballpark deal, stirred up for the recent salary purge by owner Jeffrey Loria, have made it more difficult to gain public support for the Dolphins’ stadium plans. But the use of tourism tax money has received the endorsement of a number of major hotels in Miami-Dade, including the InterContinental, Loews Miami Beach, Fontainebleau and Marriott.