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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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All of this liberal vs conservative bs from guys who only care about gaining a foot hold on power than the welfare of any redblooded Aerican citizen got a very innocent 9yr old little girl killed a few weeks back.

Why do you people continue to be fleeced like blind sheep on both sides. Whether liberal or coservative politician, it's not the people that they really have great passion for. It's personal power.

And they gain it on the backs of gullible people just like you. If China invaded the USA today, do you think they'll ask whether you're liberal, conservative, or independant before parking a bullett into your idiotic brain?

I am so sick of the political branding that's now foolishly dividing our nation!!!

Derek = Derek4Dolphins but changed his name out of admitted shame of his previous hostile, maniac behavior here. He can run but he can't hide, already showing is true colors...brown and yellow haha.

Mr. Dying Breed is alive and alert, not asleep at the wheel like the Derek man hiding in the shadow of his fears.

What shame, our once great nation is on the verge of a monumental collapse rivaled by only that of a Romanish empire scale. With this staring each and every American right square in the face, all that we're seeming to do is look for new ways to hate the very brother and sister American that could someday be the only ones left to save our own lives.

Will you guys quit withe this conservative, liberal, and independant labeling now. It's own a self serving power ploy by men who treasure wiping thier a*sses far more than the love of this nation. Will you ever stop being blind sheep.

I bet anything that most of all those posting here will do worst than Ro$$. Remember, I am 64 years old and I saw those radical hippies become the most conscienless businessmen in the World. That's how it is.


You're right! Those same hippies that were against the system have now created one that makes the old system seem like a stroll in the park on a beautiful day.

The American Political System, period, has become one that will do ANYTHING to gain or maintain power. Even if that means telling the "gullible" outright lies or placing a horrendous spin on the truth.

Dont be gullible sheep your entire lives!

It isn't a new idea to put taxes on tourisim dollars to improve public faclities. The first blog of today made it seem that the Dolphins needed money to just add a roof to the stadium. The follow up blog made much more sense. Bed tax money cannot be used for schools, emergency orginizations, or utilities. The money has to be spent on things like parks, promotion of commerce, or anything that may draw more tourism to the area. Stadiums, and arenas also fall into this category.
There are many cases where cities use these funds to improve these as they see them as important part of a cities appeal. Sure not everyone goes to games. In fact a lesser percentage of the population could not care. But, they are money making machines. Especially if the team is doing well(another argument for another blog)
Since tourism is the number 1 source of South Floridas economy. It makes sense to try and draw as many big events to the area that the county can. If improving the stadium from funds that are available. It makes sense to use those funds for what they were intended. I don't know what sort of boom the area gets from hosting big events. But I could imagine local hotels and resaraunts, and their employees would rather them be here. Then say Tampa, or Atlanta.
This is why towns do this. So it doesn't come out of the pockets of locals. Sure you feel it a little bit. But how many times a year do you stay at a hotel. It could be worse. I live in a town that would not survive without tourism. Everything is taxed(except gas, milk, bread, eggs) It is used in the same way. But on a much smaller scale. The local people hated it at first. But we have benefited greatly ffrom this tax. And tourism is up almost 15% in a bad economy to boot.

I actually had a football thought but this shift to politics has diverted my attention.

I go to the supermarket for shampoo, and there are 101 flavors, I simply want shampoo for a guy...but I have to sift through rosemary avocado lemon oil options. Fine. Its like that with everything in the states, tons of options. I've lived in abroad in a few countries and one of the things that stands out in this country is just how many dang options we have. Except in one area. Politics.

This idea of liberal, conservatitive, Republican or Democrat is the biggest running farce. Folks, its a one party system disguised as a two party system, and in the end, they all vote for what is best for big business, at the expense of the citizen. It's that simple, that sad, and that shameful. Yet these people carry on about Repubs or Dems, Libs or Conservatives as though they were saviors, when in reality its these very people they vote for that are the enemies. These politicians all just play an angle which they feel will get them the most votes, once in they have no allegiance to those that voted for them.

Why can't the general population see this??? They've been voting for the enemy for 50 years now!

If Henne had half of brady's numbers we'd be 10-6 easily 18-8 would be a hell of a lot better than what Henne did this year

Dying Breed..Sorry I didn't space that last blog. It is still new to me..A work in progress. Thanks for the advice, you were right. The posts are much easier to read. Especially when I ramble.


Exactly! Just to add to what you correctly mentioned. If the owners themselves have to foot all costs for stadium renovations, just like Walmarts or any other business, the cost will be passed down to those buying tickets.

Sure owners make money but there's lots of overhead costs involved too. In the end the profit margin may not be as great as some would think.

Well, DB, and where are we heading? It is obvious that this Country is bankrupt. Will America regain "supremacy" in the World? I doubt it(Globalization). So, what are we to do? I guess we have to redefine the American Dream.


Great post! You restore my faith that all in America are not blind sheep. This political farce got a very innocent 9yr old little girl killed just a few weks back. It has gotten absolutely ridiculous!


It's hard to say. But I would not be shock if America one day became like the new Europe. Instead of one great nation, one day we could splinter into several autonomous countries.

If we something absolutely earth shaking doesnt happen to deter America from the present course. I absolutely see nothing good that will come from it. At present we seem headed for an unavoidable disaster unless we come to our senses.

LOL, guess I need to get to bed. Everytime I read my posts after posting I see I've added words I didnt even see I typed.

Man I miss the days of good ole' fashioned Henne & Henning Bashing. Those were the days.
I went back and read some of the archived blogs from August, and September. Some interesting stuff. Boy were we an optomistic group.

For now, DB, it's every Country on its own.

I still think Mr. Ross might be a little short of liquid cash equivilant. He owes Uncle Wayne of bunch of money (hundreds of millions) and he made a lot of his money on the Condo boom which went bust. We all know what happened to the condo buildings, while Mr. Ross is one of the top richest 1000 people in the US he may be feeling a liquidity crunch aka short of cash. Until the team gets turned around people are not going to support money to rehab Joe Robbie Stadium (They should rename it that to get rid of the curse). Winning cures everything and if the Phins were winners we would probably be talking about a new $2 billion dollar stadium financed by AEG in the Miami area. Joe Robbie stadium handles all the big concerts down here anyway like U2 and the Stones. Have AEG sponsor a new stadium and build it out like the new Cowboys stadium, the Phins only need it 8 times a year at this rate anyway lol. Maybe put Tony Soprano Jr in charge of it.

Also the flat roof thing with all the wires in the picture is ridiculous for anyone that lives in South Florida. We get things called hurricanes and large thunderstorms which would tear off that roof like the end of Charlie Sheens straw in a coke bust. In Reality Ross should probably put some money into saving for the deposit for a new stadium, Joe Robbie is a concrete relic, it works for now, but I would not put any more money into it. Its like a 1987 Impala, keep it running as long as you can until u can get a new one.

Just for the record. The new Cowboys stadium was funded by the same resources. University of Phoenix Stadium. Funded by bed, food and rental car tax. Lucas Oil stadium. The 10 surrounding counties all pooled their bed tax, food tax and rental car tax. To help in the construction of the new faclity. All of these teams are, or have hosted a Super Bowl. The stadiums were not fully funded by this tax money. Private money, and corprate naming rights applied.
This is just the way buisness is conducted. It could go to a proposed mill levy. That would really upset some property owners. Although I think passing a mill levy in Dade county would be very difficult.

Wow the thermometer just stopped working. -34 degrees right now. I just tossed a glass of water into the air, and it turned into vapor. This is freekin cold......

Splinter, nothing. We ally with other Countries in this Hemisphere.

wake deserves more credit

well i dont live in Miami, sooooooo I'm all for it!!

Mike Dee, trying to screw us phins!!! Whats new, it's been a long time since there has been any hope. Ross, please sell the team!!!!!! You F****** J********

Please sell my beloved Dolphins to another owner who knows what the F**** is going on you old J***** F*g. Go buy Michigan and bring Hene and soprano with you. Why did you embarass us on national TV?
You make me sick, I would never pay a cent to come see you ruin the Phins. Happy
blackouts, you old f******

question is after the 200 million upgrade, how long till we will need a new venue,upgrades not withstanding? that factor needs to be balanced against the upgrade costs...ie if the 200 million gets us 10 more years of SB and BCS gae bids, is it ore cost effective to build a new stadium that will give us 30 more years of bids?

State-subsidized capitalism at its finest

"Free Market" Fantasies"

Same ol', same ol'.

Real Capitalism: Newt Gingrich received more subsidies than any other member of Congress: http://is.gd/xBqNJXn

Do whatever you want, but do it with your own dime.

More smoke from the Dolphins Franchise....it is more about the SHOW then the Team...

To be honest it doesn't effect me what so ever since i'm not a FL resident and don't see the games live at the stadium.

So do what you want with the stadium....

Just field a better team!

That's my take.

wonder if mike dee is donating any of his money????

So called tourist taxes are still taxes on normal people, who are mostly in Miami for reasons other than the Dolphins or Superbowls. Mr. Ross is a successful billionaire; he does not need public welfare to fund his business and is perfectly able to fund the upgrades himself. There are better ways for a few hundred million tax dollars to be spent.

If public money must be used, then I suggest a special tax on Mr. Ross for losses by the Miami Dolphins. Say, twenty million dollars for each loss, with a surcharge of fifty million for losses to the Patriots or Jets. The proceeds can go into a fund to build a new staduim owned by the City of Miami. It will only take a few short years to raise the funds to build a truly state of the art stadium and will give Mr. Ross a business incentive to put a winner on the field. What's more, he can afford it.

worry about building a solid O-line and getting rid of robo henne! then we can talk about upgrading the stadium! Mando did you ask mike dee is he feels like this sorry front office and coaching staff deserve a better stadium?

Sure wish we were talking about the dolphins in the superbowl now not arguing if the stadium should be upgraded... We can't even pick a name for the stadium how can we agree if it needs to be upgraded.. mr. Robbie is doing cartwheels in his grave over the state of this franchise and it's stadium!

That's right he isn't even rolling over any more it hasn't helped...

More proof you're a fan of a meaningless team:

A one-day story on upgrading the stadium becomes a 2-day story (with an interview) and turns into a discussion about politics.

Now, I'm all about discussing politics, but I sure wish I could be discussing how close the sides are to completing the CBA, or how this inexperienced coaching staff is going to turn things around, or even how the players are going to keep in touch and if they are going to do any unorganized team activities.

I'm not a community organizer or anything, but wouldn't a better product on the field increase interest and grease the wheels with the public to make improvements to the stadium? And isn't it kind of ridiculous that a team that hasn't seen a SuperBowl (personally) in decades is feverishly debating how to improve their stadium so they can HOST a SuperBowl? LOL! Damn capitalism even trumps WINNING! Hey Ross, improve the team first, then worry about the infrastructure. You keep having losing seasons and you won't NEED a stadium, you might not even have a TEAM in Miami. I'd rather all heads involved in improving the TEAM, the product ON the field.

The city and surrounding areas businesses gain the biggest benefits from SUn Life hosting these games. The home team gains little compared the the boost to the local economies.

Sorry Mando, Mr. Dee comments are falling a deaf ears. Really 200 million a whole 50 million savings. When Joe Robbie tried to get public funding for the stadium, he was turned down. He took HIS own money and built the stadium I still refer to as JRS.

Now Ross comes into the picture. Mr. Dee talks about infrastructure improvements to lighting and LED or whatever the soup de jour is at the moment.

Now heres the kicker, if I as a business owner wanted to update the infrastructure of my facilities, I'd be looking at paying it myself.

Why do sport franchises in SF think that the average tax payer is willing to support any improvements at all.

Mr. Brahman has done the locals a real service by showing how the Marlins, with hundreds of millions in their coffers still got locals to foot the bill for their stadium.

I say enough is enough, Mr. Ross has plenty of money to pay for the upgrades himself. For tourist dollars to be spent on these Dolphins is surely a travesty.

Mr. Ross has not improved this team, the mediocre performance in an otherwise sports fan unfriendly stadium.

To this and Mr. Dee, I say rubbish, you want the upgrades, do what Joe Robbie did! Pay for it out of YOUR profits.

Granted the SB brings in real money, but Broward county benefited the most the last time the SB was played here. Let's face it Joe Robbie knew that Broward fans were the ultimate chip that Robbie looked at to keep the stadium filled into the future. Where is Broward counties portion of tax dollars. I recently read that the Dolphins want some sort of money from them as well.

Ask Mr. Dee, mando when do private entities get Goverment assistance for their infrastructure improvements? The answer is never, why should tourist bed tax dollars be spent on a mediocre team?

So that we can have a short-term benefit, that improves the Broward economy. It makes no sense to me, especially in light of the fact that all the big events for the last SB were in Broward.

So let's see how Ross and Dee go Dom here. Maybe we're all idiots, but for once I think Ross needs some more celebrity owners to help pay for this cost. Maybe they can add Oprah, she just started her own network. Here purse strings are much larger than Ross's.

I find this whole discussion of Florida being a greatand financially viable tourist attraction quite dated. With the development of "all-inclusive" resorts in places like Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Cuba for example, which offer full service and food and drinks for one low price (as low as $900/week for a 4 star resort) and add to that you don't have to drive anywhere.

Now compare that to going to Florida and having to cook your own food or pay high prices for it, having to drive everywhere you go, and laying on 2nd rate beaches, why would anyone go to Florida??? I mean, if it wasn't for the Dolphins, I don't think I would ever even consider going back again.

And now there is discussion of raising taxes to increase the cost even more??? Pfff, good luck Florida.

Someone wake me up when we get a QB. Now, I have to go dig myself out of the snow.

They should just build a separate stadium for the Super Bowl. They 3500 seats they add to SunLife would make the place look even emptier those 8 games that are played there each year.

LOL Mark, good luck man. Hope you don't get any ice on top of that.

ESPN.com is reporting the awful news that a majority of "mock" drafts has us getting Mark Ingram. 2011 Dolfans, welcome to 2009-10 Dolphins. Slow, prodding, 80's-style football that no team in the last 5-6 years at least has been able to ride to the SuperBowl (no, not even the Steelers, who throw WAY more now then they used to), but, what the heck. If it hasn't worked all decade, might as well keep trying the same thing hoping for a different result!

Why would anyone go to Florida? Mainly to die. I lived in both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale...disgustingly humid, mosquito heaven, traffic, giant flying roaches, tons of racism and prejudice - the various ethnic groups hate each other....and yes the options for a vacation in the Caribbean or mexico are far superior and cheaper.

DC, I think the new 9th Wonder of the World is the way the Miami Dolphins continually chicken out of the QB scenario although ALL successful teams in this league win with 1st round rated QBs. The Dolphins keep trying to win with the 2000 baltimore Ravens model even though they don't have the same defense, or OL, or coaching, or player personnel evaluating skills, or even a QB as good as Trent Dilfer.

I know this team will have Kolb as our starter next year. History will tell us that. We will continue to pay top dollar in trade costs for someone else's 2nd string player.

Private company wants upgrades, private company should PAY for upgrades.

Give me a break Dee and Ross. You knew what you were getting into to when you "paid what you did for the franchise." I'm so sick of "the people" making wealthy people richer.

I hope it snows 30 feet in Dallas and it's so cold it can't snow in NY next year and sleets cold rain for 40 days and 40 nights before the game.

The game isn't getting better, it's getting worse and the only reason for growth now is fantasy leagues and gambling.

Add 2 more games, thats perfect. I can't wait to see Charlie Batch and John Kitna battling for NFL championship in the future. The MVP will be my mailman, who was signed the starting week of the playoffs since half the team was on IR.

Good job NFL, keep srewin' the pup and see where you end up. It's all over for me when they only offer games on TV pay for view...which is only a few years away my friends.

Call me shortsighted but public money for a privately held business? Irrespective of the benefit to the community, no. Not today. Not thirty years ago. Not thirty years from now. Not ever.

aloco. tell dee and ross to get a bunch of non union illegals and pay them 4 bux an hr. to do the upgrades along with a ton of chinese dry wall, it should cost about 30 g's to finish the job.. lol

Hey Mark, we don't want you cheap ass canucks here anyway. Don't have a heart attack shoveling that snow, it's 75 and sunny here. LMAO

This FA will probably trade our 1st pick for Brady Quinn, trade Hartline for Ted Ginn Jr, and trade Ricky for an oft injured lineman currently on the operating table.

NATIVE = bobbyd in hiding. What a shame, he promised to go away yesterday and he is already back.

i doubt it bobbyd is probaly in a straight jacket right now. that dude was insane, serious mental issues

Mando and his sheep are idiots

The Buffalo Bill went to 4 straight Superbowls in their crap stadium in Orchard Park and they have the most passionate fans in the NFL.

Dee & Ross are money hungry business men NOT football men.

Steelers, Patriots, Eagles, Bears, Packers...these fans know football and don't need the glitz and glitter that Dee & Ross are advocating.

I'm afraid our current ownership is only in it for the $$$ and his return on investment.

Joe Robbie is turning over in his grave.

NATIVE, it may be easy to not spot me in Florida unless I plan a road trip to watch the Dolphins play (you know unlike the locals who are too cheap to pony up for tickets wven though they live there), but yo may have trouble keeping my family members out of the state since they own a few properties down there. Man, with the price of real estate down there and the mighty wisdom of your banking system, it was simply too easy for us "CHEAP ASS CANUCKS" to simply swoop up all the property we could handle.

Isn't Haiti the place of voodoo? Cause, I keep hearing how Joe Robbie (long dead) is turning over in his grave. Is he a zombie? Did somebody blow white powder on his face to make it look like he was dead, but he's actually not (just stuck in that casket)? Just trying to figure this out. Cause if Joe Robbie is turning over in his grave, maybe it's time to exhume him and get him out of there. Ya think?

Tell him Mark! I wonder if Native is a Seminole. Otherwise, shouldn't they be calling themselves "TRANSPLANT"!

DC..."turning over" in the grave is a figure of speech that indicates extreme disgust of a situation.

Robbie & Shula were REAL football men and since Shula is alive and well, I'd love to get his opinion on this "stadium upgrade" issue.

I am not in favor of raising taxes to support a private team enterprise. However, from a passion for the team/game standpoint, it seems the Dolphins would have a better case to make to the tax payers directly effected if we were talking about a team that can actually win...especially at home. Mr. Ross, invest in building a winning team and a stadium will come.

Thanks for the blog Mando.

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