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Mike Dee counters why stadium upgrades make sense

The last post gave reasons, unsophisticated though they may have been, why adding a roof to Sun Life Stadium and performing other significant upgrades bothers me if the bill is paid by someone other than Dolphins and stadium owner Stephen Ross.

Well, the post bothered the Dolphins.

I got a call from media relations senior vice president Harvey Greene telling me A. I am stupid. B. I am wrong on the topic. C. That club Chief Executive Officer Mike Dee wanted an opportunity to speak with me so he could explain why I'm stupid and wrong.

Seriously, the idea that Dee wanted an opportunity to explain the club's view on the matter is the real reason the Dolphins were calling. So I spoke with Dee for 35 minutes and he gave the club's viewpoint on the Sun Life Stadium upgrades issue.

What follows, in the spirit of fairness, is a Dolphins' take:

The club is working feverishly to gain the ability to tap local tourist bed tax dollars tied to hotel stays in an effort to upgrade Sun Life and other facilities in South Florida.

To correct the record, I said in the previous post that the New Orleans Superdome, built in 1975, has been awarded a Super Bowl coming up. It should be added that Louisiana is pouring between $300-$400 million in upgrades into that stadium. Also, the amount of money the Dolphins need for their upgrades here is $200 million, not the previously stated $250 million.

That money would go toward upgrading the stadium's orginal 1987 lighting that has to be improved for the benefit of modern television technology. The money would go toward upgrading what Dee terms as an "inadequate" video system infrastructure. The money would bring a number of seats 18 feet closer to the field and add 3,500 seats, thereby increasing the number of seats between the goal lines and probably making the place louder -- seemingly creating a football game experience superior to the one fans gets now.

The money also would go, most notably, toward buidling a canopy-type roof over the stadium that would guard fans against the elements while still allowing the playing surface to remain out in the elements.

"Doing all those things would bring us just above the Mendoza line, or in the zip code of where we need to be as a facility capable of attracting Super Bowl and BCS title games," Dee said.

The upgrades would also add approximately 30 years of shelf life to Sun Life Stadium, Dee said.

Understand that Sun Life is the only dual purpose facility that regularly competes for Super Bowls. Understand that the BCS contract expires in 2013. The upgrades, Dee says, would bring the facility more closely in line with its Super Bowl competitors and increase South Florida's chances of staying in the mix for BCS title games.

"The landscape is changing and it has us concerned," Dee said. "Facilities have come online that are newer and perhaps more attractive to the NFL. Dallas is going to be competing for Super Bowls over the longterm. It won't be a one-off award to Dallas. They’re already gearing up bids for 2015, 2016. They're also interested in attracting the BCS.

"New stadium competition today is far greater than it was in the 80s. We take the possibility that we could be out of the Super Bowl rotation as real. Even if we wanted to get a Super Bowl every eight to 10 years, taking the view we’re just like Tampa and we can make due with the way things are or doing minor upgrades, there's a good chance we might not get those games. We don't want to take that approach without debating the potential consequences with the community."

The approach the Dolphins want to see South Florida take is that the league's biggest game comes to town perhaps every four to five years.

And, Dee makes the point, that will not happen unless Sun Life is upgraded. 

The construction of the original Joe Robbie Stadium was done through private funds in the 1980s. Three years ago, then owner H. Wayne Huizenga invested $250 million in upgrades, primarily to the club level and concourses, but did not attend to the greater needs outlined above. 

So I asked what I think is the most pertinent question: Why doesn't Ross pay for the upgrades to his stadium?

"It's well documented what we paid for the franchise," Dee said. "I don’t want to go into details now but we are willing to share once the process goes forward. Basically we're dealing with constraints the NFL places on ownership as to the amount of debt you can take on."

Dee made the point the current stadium debt is $235 million. The debt on the franchise sale is significant. Ross, it seems, is working under a budget partially placed on him by the league. And paying $200 million for upgrades would be over his budget.

Dee said that doesn't mean Ross isn't willing to make this a public-private venture. Although he declined to say how much Ross would be willing to contribute, he said that figure has been shared with investors and they are apparently comfortable with the figures.

They are eight-figure numbers.

"It's a significant investment," Dee said.

The Dolphins have state legislators working with them. Bills have already been referenced to committees that would raise local bed taxes levels from the current six percent cap. If the legislation fails, the issue is dead for the time being. Obviously it would not be brought back up until the 2012 legislative session at the earliest.

If the legislation passes in Tallahassee, the Dolphins move on to the next step: Getting local politicians to approve.

"We're trying to bring the conversation to the table locally," Dee said. "We would do it in as transparent a way as possible. Even those that oppose us say we’re doing it with all our cards face up on the table."

Dee said there would be town hall meetings, open houses, and public hearings on the issue. "It would be a process to make the public aware of what's at stake," he said.

There would not, however, be a ballot measure put to the voters for an up or down vote. The measure would be decided by the politicians the voters elected.

The Dolphins are fighting this legislative fight and, results notwithstanding, vow to continue bidding on Super Bowls that bring a financial benefit to South Florida. South Florida has already submitted its interest to bid on the 2015 game.

"We’re not going to stop going after Super Bowls," Dee said. "We’re going to go after them as much as the community wants us to go after them."

But that comes with a warning. If future bids don't include a stadium that has undergone significant upgrades -- upgrades the Dolphins want financed through a public-private partnership -- the chances of succeeding in getting future games decline.

That's why making the public portion of this venture a reality is important, Dee said. That's why failure would be problematic.

"It would be disappointing if we're not successful," Dee said. "We're prepared to live with that. But unlike others, we're not saying we're going anywhere. We’re going to be here. We've been here 45-plus years. We're going to continue being part of this community even if the upgrades don't happen. That doesn't make South Florida not a great place. It would just make it a place that doesn’t host big events as regularly as we've come to expect."


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First and Second? Whassup wit that

Armando..What sort of economic boost does South Florida get when these big games are held? Do have any numbers? Thinking about it 200 million dollars sounds like peanuts when it comes to this renovation. If it can secure the Super Bowl,and. BCS title game into a 5 year rotation. But who is to say it stops here. At what point will the orginization be making these points for a new stadium?

Well if the city needs the superbowl money then it sounds like they need to do something about the stadium. Miami superbowls are usually the best. I hope they get it done somehow

Upgrade with Blaine Gabbert, QB, University of Missouri.

Hire Don Strock to break him in.

Unless they move the Super Bowl to Hawaii there is no good reason to upgrade Joe Robbie stadium. It is unfriendly to football. I would humbly recommend building a new stadium near the waterfront and turning the existing property into retail space and the water-park you have planned. For one thing it isn't nearly as loud as the closed end-zone of the Orange Bowl. It never will be regardless of type of roof installed. Because it was built for dual purposes I think it should be razed. The Dolphins deserve a state of the art stadium/facility, something the whole community can get behind. I don't see it happening right now though, either through private finance or tax payer funding.
Miami has the weather to make having the SB here once every 3 years or so very appealing to the NFL. Take one look at the ESPN guys on today. A little cold fellas? One announcer claimed it took him 2 hours to reach the stadium from his hotel. It is quite possible interest in Joe Robbie will be increasing after this game rather than decreasing as Mr. Dee suggests.
Now making a move in the city to employ people, that would be something the community would get behind, especially now that the Marlins got their own stadium. Propose to create a landmark and the town just might get behind you. Propose upgrading a stadium that should never have been built ... meh priceless.


Dee is a moron. put a viable team on the field before you start asking for hand outs. You feed us crap, and ask for caviar.

Worry about upgrading the pathetic product on the field.

Until then, no one gives a sh** about the stadium.

I've been a Dolphin fan for almost 40 years - the Dolphins are about as close to winning a championship as the Browns are - this team doesn't have the talent (QB, RB, OL and secondary) to win and they don't have the character or heart to win.
I've told this story before - I hate Chris Berman - when the Dolphins "fired" Don Shula and hired fat Jimmy Johnson they had a short special on ESPN - Berman said "The Dolphins will rue the day they let Don Shula go." I was ready to drive to CT just to punch him in the face - but I thought, hey - they'll win the Super Bowl a few times and all will be forgotten - boy was I wrong and the worst part is - Berman was right.
Think of all the embarrassment this franchise has put us through since Shula left - *losing 92 to 2 to Jackoffville in the playoffs - *fat Jimmy quitting and then staying and sucking - getting blown out three years in a row in the playoffs - *NE knowing our plays and fat Jimmy not changing anything up - *Wanny never able to win the big game at the end of the year - *going 1-15 - *drafting Ted Ginn Jr. and his family - *following that up with a 1-15 season - *fat Tony Sparano going 11-5 with the easiest schedule maybe in league history and then losing at home (I see a pattern here)- *the whole Dez Bryant situation - going 1-7 at home - AT HOME!!!! - *the whole coaching fiasco after this terrible season - on and on it goes.
I don't ever remember being embarrassed when Don Shula was the coach of this team - they were the class of the league - what do you guys think? I'm sick of it and it doesn't seem like this Ross idiot has any clue what he is doing. I don't see a championship anywhere on the horizon.


I'm with Dee and not with Thee!

Roof it--better yet, build a new domed stadium a la Reliant, w/ seats closer to field & better sight-lines.

G-d Bless Joe Robbie, but he built the seats too far from the field.

I've been to Reliant for all the Fins loses there (still have visions of that QB draw/sneak, and the Andre J spectacular catch that preceded it!!) It's a heckuva stadium, w/o Jerry Jones Caligula-excesses.

I'm with Xpensive Wino - who gives a rats ass about the stadium - MAKE THE TEAM BETTER - BETTER PLAYERS - BETTER COACHES - A REAL GM - AND A REAL OWNER - I don't care if they play in the parking lot - WIN SOME GAMES ALREADY!!!

Oh yeah, I forgot. We have hurricanes here. A canopy roof is a terrible idea. Can anyone say giant freaking sail?

I can.

Giant Freaking Sail!!!!

I don't care one way or the other about the stadium. I do like the idea of moving the seats closer though. Frankly I wish they were still playing in the Orange Bowl. That was a fun stadium. My #1 concern is that they put a playoff caliber team on the field!!!

One thing is for certain. Now we know for sure that someone in the Dolpins organization reads these blogs. And they care what we think!

right, start by upgrading the qb, and the whole team. and then they have the nerve to want tax payers and tourists to foot the bill. a bunch of bullsh$t if you ask me. ross should be paying the fans to listen to that crap!

dolphin77 is real dumb monkey .

Better Team required .. Super Bowl can go where Godell deems where is it next year (NY ?) Check today's weather in Miami.. Nuff said !

ross wants to be a big shot;let him pay for it. getting the people to pay his bills is how he became a billionaire.

I'm all for the stadium upgrades. I never quite understand why folks get so upset about these "handouts". They are trying to tap a bed tax. Tourists pay those taxes, not residents (unless they are staying at a hotel for some reason). It's not like they are taking money that is earmarked for education or police...it's money for tourism. I think ensuring that South Florida is in line for multiple Super Bowls and BCS Title games is a much better use of that money than lousy tourism commercials. And for those who think the Super Bowl will come regardless of the stadium, remember that South Florida went 10 years between Super Bowls (1979 to 1989) when the Orange Bowl was deemed inadequate for the big game.

Armando, you should ask Mike Dee if the roof is really necessary? How much do they need for the other upgrades - namely moving the seats closer to the field (a MUST, once the Marlins move out)? If the whole $200 million package fails, is Ross willing to go forward with some of the changes, using his own money?

Who the hell is Dee trying to kid? a) Seats closer? How's that going to work? Ever sat in the 1st 8 rows? You can't see over TV cameras and players now. b) We don't want a roof, it's Florida. c) Take your SB and stick it. Why would I want to go if the Dolphins ain't in it?

how about a portrait on the stadium of bobbyd, aloco and craigm? gang of jo?

Let's see, the Heat have a building built on tax dollars, the Marlins have a brand new building being built by tax dollars, the panthers have a building built with tax dollars and yet people complain about giving SOME help to the only team that has paid it's way.

Not only have they paid their way, because of their facility South Florida has enjoyed the economic rewards of MANY large events - more than all the other teams combined!

I was amazed that Broward was so CHEAP and wouldn't contribute - where exactly do people who attend these events stay?

National Championships, Super Bowls - that is a boat load of money for the area. Get up off your wallets! Besides, the bed tax is paid with MY dollars as I travel to the area for games.

Mando, please tell me you're not buying this load of bull$hit from Dee.

FIRST - HELP THIS Team drop the general perception/reality of being “SOFT, WEAK and, or CLUELESS“
BY - Buying few more good and SPECIAL play-makers for our OFFENSE, Draft players WHO CAN PLAY. Beg Dan Marino to play QB-Consultant to evaluate a QB to pick during the next draft; win the AFC-East for the next few years and a super Bowl anytime soon; and you will have a new stadium, which is better than an UPGRADE to the current !!!!!!

Can we work on upgrading the team first. Those new seats will be empty. With the new lighting you will be able to see all those orange, empty seats in HD.

Sports are entertainment. I enjoy sports, yet the only team I follow or care about in all of sports is the fins. That being said...its entertainment. I'd much rather see taxes go to education, things that will build the fabric and foundation of our society, that football. Football is a luxury. We've fallen too far behind to be throwing away money on frivolous things. This country INVENTED technology, we were #1 for years, and now we are #17. That is a crying shame. High School education here is now #9 worldwide and falling. Let's save the show business for when we've earned it, and let the stinking rich worry about their stadiums or bowl games.

Not in any particular order: Nice to see the Dolphin organization keeps tabs on articles written about them. Sorry, but Dee does not make a compelling case. Ross should have known cost of doing business in the NFL. And, you mean the NFL has a debt threshold? Really?. The Marlins lied about their finances, why should the Dolphins be believed?

Before you go shooting your mouth off about all the money a city hosting a SB makes, you might want to research it.


I wonder how long 200 million dollar touch ups are going to be enough to keep them in running. I have a feeling this will come up every few years until they suddenly need a 2Bn new stadium.

This is ludicrous. I don't live in Miami so I'm not overly concerned about the Dolphins hosting other teams to play in the biggest game. I would however, very much like to live long enough to see the Dolphins PLAY in another Super Bowl, and it's been almost thirty years since they last did that.

Tell Ross, Dee, Harvey Greene and anybody else involved with the franchise to take the money and put it into scouting, and the necessary upgrades to the players on the roster and the coaching staff.

Then when the team is a contender they'll have no problem whatsoever getting politicians, voters and everybody else on board for whatever they want to do. In the meantime, tell them to stop putting the cart before the horse. They bought a football team and the stadium that came with it, not the other way around.

PS - I too thought GIANT FREAKING SAIL when I read about the proposal for a roof. Two other words that came to mind were "hurricanes" and "liability". The practice bubble in Dallas collapsed under high winds and left a guy paralyzed. How many fans could get hurt if the canopy collapses? Didn't Ross go to business school? What'd he learn there? Spend the money on making the team better and forget the roof.


What a load if horse crap.

Armando, you should tell him and Greene they are:


They need to stop acting as if they are doing this for the good of the community and all that.

At the end of the day, THEY, not the community will make more PROFIT because of these upgrades than anyone else. PERIOD.

That they have invested and will invest more into this team? SO? Its THEIR business. WTF? Thats what normal people do. But I guess when your Ultra Rich like Ross you can whine and moan to your politician buddies and pay some lobbyist to push for some FREE CASH.

I say NO public money.

I am all for the fans getting closer to the action. Make the stadium louder. Also fix the lighting and visuals of the stadium.

how bout making the dolphins great before worrying about making the stadium great. and focus on the fins instead of getting a super bowl every 5 years

Mr. Cnnrs....well said.....if/when you build a winner.....the money will take care of itself.....

Id rather see Miami get some public transit to the games. I`ve come down the last 4 years to go to a game. It costs more than 50 bucks each way from Miami Beach.With the amount of beer and the consequences of DUI it`s a reason not for you locals to go to the games.

Living in Miami Beach still makes you a local. I'm in Chicago. Bears suck, bears fans suck, and the Phins will bounce back.

The impact the SB has on local business is huge. I can't tell you the company I work for, all I can say is, the last two SB carry us throughout those years, and they were probably the only reason we survived the recession.

I was against the idea of paying for the Marlins stadium.

and I'm against the idea of paying for the Fins stadium.

These billionaires make too much money and want to save a few more cents by asking for public's money. it's not like they're giving us the "public" a discount for a product that has been mediocre for the past few years.

I'm really not sure why the fans should give a hoot about bringing more big games to Miami. That only benefits big business. Fine, but fans, we just want a winner. They can play the SB in China for all we care, we'd just like to see the fins win a playoff game more than once a decade.

I actually wouldn't mind taxing tourist's bed tax, who don't even live in South Florida. Use that money, but not for building a roof. Get more seats in the stadium and give our team the best chance of winning and a great homefield advantage. This would also help the fans in the long run because ticket prices might actually stop going up or maybe go down due to more seats in the stadium.

The impact the SB has on local business is huge.

Posted by: mlb2007atla | February 01, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Really? You might want to read this article by an economist.

Dee rides the short bus with dark tinted windows..and Ross is driving...

I agree with most of you whom say... Field a better team before worrying about this nonsense. Dee, wake the F up..


I do not care of what entertainment does to your business. Tell me, with the recession (THAT IS NOT GOING TO GO AWAY ANYTIME SOON GET THAT THROUGH YOUR HEAD), how can we get enough tourists to even come to Florida. Magic? It is a hotel bed tax after all and what is going to happen when there is a shortfall in revenue and the Politicians say now we need public Tax Money to repay the roof. What part of recession do people not understand or I guess Florida is the only state immune to these types of things. Even Disney if getting effected and it's full of magic! We will end up paying for this...that's why I say no no and hell no. And are we forgetting what Mando said about other areas earmarked for this money or do you think he just flat out lied (which I doubt because throughout this country's history besides the forefather's era it is ALL about the poor being burdend with the Riches expenses) Open your eyes and see that this cannot freaking continue. Oh one more thing...... PUT A DANG PRODUCT PEOPLE ACTUALLY WANT TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT AND SEE BEFORE YOU ASK FOR THIS...FREAKING CLOWNSHOES, I SWEAR....

So. Some people thought that only us Fans read and participated in these Blogs. Not so, as you can see. According to the main three publications in South Florida, there is interest in the Dolphins in Dade County, Broward and Palm Beach County. So, why should Dade be the only one to share the burden? You people in Broward and farther north have excellent waterfront resources(maybe better than Miami), from the beaches in Dania and Hollywood to horseracing and gambling in Hallandale. And you think that Dade County will be the only one to profit from a SB in SunLife Stadium? Pleeease. Get everybody together and develop as much as you can(and you will, if so).

If you don't live in Dade, Broward or Palm Beach County, This ain't None of your Business.
Use your heads guys. Don't let haters living in God knows what Po-Dunk Crap hole tell you what is and is not important to YOUR TEAMS STADIUM in YOUR HOME TOWN.
The Dolphins are going to bring a certain amount of revenue to the Tri-County area win or lose. Sure, it would get better if we were winning but let me remind those who live here it has been nearly a decade since we have had a game blacked out do to not being sold out.
The revenue connected to the Superbowl's and the Bowl Games has NOTHING to do with The Dolphins. That money comes here to pay for Jobs, Roads, Cops, New Infrastructure and all the other things we enjoy in SF. The Dolphins money is a static thing and always will be, these other things will not if we lose them.
We must deal with Tourist after tourist, clogging our roads, restaurants and Clubs... all the while telling us much better it is "Up North"... we may as well tax them silly and get OUR STADIUM and OUR TEAM some renovations. Hell, we are the ones who will get to enjoy the renovations... not the haters who are talking crap. We need these upgrades so we can get more events here to KEEP TAXING THEM SILLY so we can buy MORE NEW KILLER STUFF that makes SF so appealing to so many people who live here year round.
You are FOOLS if you are listening to these idiots living God only knows where talk about what WE SHOULD and SHOULD NOT have.
Bars, Cabs, Nightclubs, Restaurants, Hotels and Motels, resorts, Leasing operations, Mom & Pops, Vendors, Road side Vendors, Turn Pike Tolls, Fishing Charters, Airport Taxes, Food, Beer, Whine & Booze Taxes, T-shirt sellers and Pot dealers all make cash for SF when these events are here.
And you guys are willing to let all of that go because you want the Dolphins to have a better record and will cut off everything till you get it? ARE YOUR FRIGGEN STUPID OR SOMETHING????
Ross said he would pay a 8 figure amount, the rest is paid for by the snow birds.... Please tell me where we get the shaft South Floridians? Please tell me where us getting a remodeled stadium to go to and enjoy and all the tax and jobs and other cash we get from the Dolphins and events like SB's and Bowls... PLEASE... TELL ME WHERE WE COME OUT LOSERS??? Particularly with them [snowbirds, etc] paying the tab and us enjoying the benefits???
Don't let the Yankee's and Haters and Jealous fools teach you what you want and don't want. We live in SF... WE WANT IT ALL AND THEN SOME AND WE WANT THEM TO PAY FOR IT!!!!
Smarten up SF... Mike Dee has You and the Dolphins fans interest at heart, not the stinking tourists. Let them pay for our nice stuff. Where do you think so much of what we already have came from?

Armando, it is ridiculous for a private business to beg, plead, for public money! You know what, we have the best weather in the country at Super Bowl time, look at the weather at every other location, dismal. So we had a bad year in 2007, people might not be able to get to Texas, so many airports are shut down. Pre superbowl events are hampered by snow, sleet and ice build up!!! Tell Ross, his losing Dolphins and his loser staff that he has chosen to surround himself with, to pack their bags

Derek you forgot to mention the coke dealers. They probably do pretty well. Good post though.

Mike Dee has $ at heart. But finances are important, also.

Mando, don't let these slick hucksters take you away from your journalistic integrity! You're instincts were right. It's completely absurd for a Billionaire to be asking the tax payers to pay for upgrades to his stadium.

All the talk about NFL caps is a bunch of BS. Ross wouldn't even have to take on debt. He could pay cash for the upgrades! Dee is talking like a used car salesman trying to convince someone that the '72 Volkswagen with 250,000 miles really is a good car.

Stephen Ross makes it difficult to be a Dolphins fan. From the orange uniforms, to catering to illegals, to giving away the home field advantage, to disrespecting Sparano.....now this? I wish Ross would just sell the team. Dolphins fans don't want him. It's been a nightmare since he took over.

Derek (aka Derek4Dolphins)

Your problem is that you can't blow yourself. 85% of the population could give a flying ferk about football and would rather see those taxes go to something beneficial to society, not bs jackarse entertainment football. Go put some mustard on your shlong and get your neighbor to slurp you...Dumb friggen oscar meyer with priorties up your sore ahole.

Raise the damn bed tax. Do the renovations.

Armando you're a local, why do you care if heavy pocket tourists have to pay a little more to come here and brag about how great they have it up north.

For you who think the billionaire ought pay for renovations to the stadium. Remember that next time when you're b*itching about outrageous increase to game and season tickets.

It's the American way. The operating costs are always passed down to the consumer. Remember, it's always better them(tourists) than us.

You best believe, someone will pay. When gasoline costs more to get products to the store who the hell do you think Walmarts pass those costs down too? LOL................


doodoo.... (appropriate name for yourself)

Not too smart huh...?

Where are those Taxes to do all those "Beneficial" things for society going to come from if the events are lost from here..?

You leftist, Liberal, gut-sucking, Monterrey bay (F)maggot?

You seem just a tad obsessed with phallic food... do you think about Bratwurst while rummaging through mommies underwear draw...?

OR... do you just take a little time every night to drop by FOOTBALL BLOGS and talk about them as "Flying Jerk Football"... I think the Liberal/Progressives have really screwed you up pal... you know it has been made a true Mental deficiency to buy into all their crap.... Don't you?

Besides.... about the only thing you understand about benefits to society likely come in the form of an entitlement check from whatever Gov. Institution you and the scum of the Earth you call a family are living off of this week!

Bye Bye ...Doo Doo....

hate to say it but some of you are shortsighted--trading a snorting sweaty game of football for things that could actually improve the community beyond a once every several year influx of money to small businesses. that mentality is totally 3rd world, and is guaranteed to degrade society. blind fools.

doodoo, I didn't say finances is A priority, just one of them.

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