Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dolphins' owner unveils plans for stadium facelift


Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross gave his football team a complete facelift this past season and wants to do the same to the building they play in.

He's more than willing to open his own wallet to do it. (photo: Bob B. Brown, Flickr)

Ross unveiled a stadium renovation proposal to the residents of Miami-Dade County on Monday that would drastically modernize the aging Sun Life Stadium, largely using private funds.

"Our intention is to make Sun Life Stadium a world-class facility," Ross said, according to MiamiDolphins.com. "As well as provide a much better environment to watch the Dolphins, Hurricanes and Orange Bowl every year."

Ross, joined by Dolphins CEO Mike Dee as well as members of various athletic event committees and University of Miami officials, made an appeal for the local government to approve a tax increase to help fund the project.

But Ross pledged that the majority of construction costs would not be paid for by the public.

That may improve his chances of navigating the tricky political journey that is a stadium deal, but his best argument is the continued hosting of major sporting events, which are a major boon for the South Florida economy.

"If this proposed modernization were to move forward, we believe South Florida will have a better total package to offer than any community in the country," Orange Bowl President Andrew Hertz said.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has strongly suggested in the past that Miami must improve its facility to remain competitive for Super Bowls. The league will decide next year which city is awarded Super Bowl L, to take place in 2016.

"I think our planned modernization will maintain the special outdoor flavor of Miami, while giving us the look of the best stadiums around the world," Ross said.

The proposed changes include new seating closer to the field, a canopy that protects fans from the elements, new video screens and more. Under Ross' plan, construction would be completed by 2015.

While a primary motivation for the renovation is to maintain the stadium's status as a Super Bowl-caliber venue, it would also assure that the Dolphins remain in Miami for the long term.

"My goal is to secure the future of Miami-Dade and the Dolphins so we can remain a global competitor for sports and entertainment for at least another 25 years," Ross said. "That's why I'm willing to make the initial and most substantial investment in this project."

Follow Sean @seanldonovan
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily