One day after the Dolphins had their first dry run of their 2009 fan experience at Land Shark Stadium, owner Stephen Ross spent over an hour with The Miami Herald to discuss his vision for the future of the team on and off the field.
Ross, who bought the team for $1.1 billion earlier this year, said he will announce three more minority owners Aug. 25. In keeping with his desire to have the Dolphins represent the ethnic and racial makeup of their community, at least one of those new minority owners is black, said Ross who declined to divulge names.
The Dolphins have minority Hispanic owners in Emilio and Gloria Estefan, as well as Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.
Ross shared his vision for the experience that awaits fans when they attend games at Land Shark -- including a celebrity orange carpet arrival by stars and VIP guests and tailgate concerts throughout the season. One of those concerts is expected to include Dolphins fan Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas.
More on that in a bit. Most importantly, however, Ross recognizes that regardless of the upgrades to the fan experience and the stadium in which the team plays (Land Shark has undergone concession improvements and will soon be painted), the most important aspect of his ownership is winning.
Winning, winning, winning.
"It's the most important thing," Ross said. "That's what fans want to hear. I bought the team because I'm a fan and I want a winner and anything less than that is unacceptable. And I'm going to do everything in my power to make that happen."
And what are Ross's expectations for his Dolphins in a season that culminates with Super Bowl 44 and the Pro Bowl being played in Miami?
"The fact the Super Bowl is here and the Pro Bowl is here has nothing to do with the expectations for the football team," Ross said. "Bill Parcells, I think, is the finest football mind in America. He is making those decisions. You don't micro-manage somebody who knows something a lot better than you do. I've rested my faith in what he's doing in running that football team and not interfering with him.
"When you don't micro-manage people who are the best, you're going to have better results ... I know we're going to be competitive. We're going to enter every game believing we can win it. We're going to win our share of games. Miami is going to be happy with the results.
"This is a better team than last year's team. Will it have a better record? I don't know. Because there's a lot of luck involved in that. The ball is shaped the way it is because you don't know how it's going to bounce. But I got news for you: We are a better team. And hopefully, we'll have a better record."
Obviously, Dolphins management hopes local fans will be drawn to that better team. That hasn't necessarily happened yet, as season ticket sales are not where the Dolphins want.
Club Chief Executive Officer Mike Dee said season ticket sales are at the 49,000 level currently. Dee said the team wants to have between 62,000 to 65,000 season ticket holders, "to have the stability we aspire to have."
And that is why the Dolphins a making the push to make game day the Sunday must-attend event throughout South Florida. Certainly it goes to making money. But it also has a lot to do with that primary focus.
Winning, winning, winning.
"I asked Jeff Ireland last night about the things we're doing," Ross said. "They want to play to a stadium that's filled up. It brings excitement. It keeps the interest going. it's good for the team. It's good for the community. We recognize the most important thing is winning. Everything else is always on the margin. But it all creates it. And the players want to see those fans and those seats filled and they will play better when they are. And coaches want it."