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Why Dolphins owner Stephen Ross — not Speaker Will Weatherford — owns stadium deal death


Success has many fathers in the Florida Legislature. The Miami Dolphins-stadium deal is an orphan.

And it will probably stay that way, ironically, thanks to the man who wanted it most: Stephen Ross, the Dolphins owner.

When the plan to use up to $380 million in taxpayer money to subsidize stadium upgrades died on Friday, Ross sent out a threatening-sounding statement that bashed House Speaker Will Weatherford, essentially accused him of lying and stopped just short of promising to campaign against him.

“I am certain this decision will follow Speaker Weatherford for many years to come,” Ross said in a statement.

“I will look to play an important role in fixing the dysfunction in Tallahassee and will continue to work to create good jobs in Miami Dade and throughout South Florida.”

Just before the statement came out, I asked Weatherford what his reaction would be if Ross or his supporters threatened to spend money against him.

“Oh, wow,” Weatherford said in a voice that sounded anything but surprised or worried. “Good for them.”

Are you scared?

“No,” Weatherford smiled.

Coming from a billionaire and major Republican financier (Ross probably helped contribute and raise about $3 million to help Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign), Ross’s statement can’t be ignored.

But it was stupid.

Now the support the Dolphins had in the GOP-led Legislature has been damaged. Lawmakers don’t like it when special interests try to big foot them.

“Well, there are other billionaires,” quipped Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami.

Ross has made the Dolphins’ stadium effort politically personal.

House Republicans won’t support a measure that appears to undermine the honor of their speaker or institution. And Republicans in the more-moderate Senate, where support was once strong for the Dolphin plan, will be less inclined to back a bill that seems to challenge the conservative House and needlessly takes on a rising star of the party.

If Ross wants another shot, he needs to apologize to Weatherford and the House.

Already, though, he has shown little willingness to play by the rules of Tallahassee.

Heading into the session, Ross needed to do things the rich and powerful hate: Ask, beg, plead.

And he didn’t, especially when it came to the Miami-Dade delegation’s Republicans, a majority of whom opposed the measure. That’s a recipe for failure.

Ross needed to spend time with two key players who did more to kill the deal than Weatherford: Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Trujillo and New Port Richey Republican Rep. Richard Corcoran, who is slated to become House speaker in about four years and a master of behind-the-scenes political assassin.

Column here


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Stephen Ross For Governor 2014

Stephen Ross should run for governor against Rick Scott. And the media shouldn't defend Weatherford.

How many times has the media tried to "big foot" them in their articles? Everyone has their own interest in mind and legislators shouldn't be pitied.

Repubs might be fiscal conservatives?

Good for the Republicans for finding their inner fiscal conservative. Ross can stroke a check and is instead crying like a democrat who got sold out by fellow dems on gun grabbing.

Hey Ross - show us your commitment to the quality of life in So Fla and move the team to LA.


Republicans believe people should pull their weight and don't favor welfare, doesn't Ross know that? Where does he get off asking for a $380 million welfare check???

John Townsend

Ross should save the money he donates to the GOP and use it for the stadium. I like the idea that he would run for governor. We need more outsiders that are fed up with Tallahassee.


Marc Caputo is a good journo but he does a disservice sticking up for Republicans in the legislature.

Caputo knows they even hired Eric Jotkoff and gang to do PR in Miami-Dade. Ross and company were working it hard.

Why is there no mention of the tea party ideology in here that run deep in the House? That's what really killed this whole thing.

Caputo, good guy overall, but really misguided in reporting this about the Dolphins.

Bill Clay

Even if the legislature had passed the bill, the Dolphins would have lost the local vote here in Dade. After the overwhelming vote to recall Carlito Alvarez for forcing the Marlins deal on us, it's obvious that the taxpayers of Dade are finished with allowing corporate welfare for sports teams.


You can call the Dolphins deal "corporate welfare" Bill (4:55pm) but in reality, the legislature does give a lot of dough to pet projects across the board. At least the Dolphins deal would have produced something for Miami-Dade like jobs and tourism.

Elmo Jon Brown

Who is better Rick Scott or Steven Ross? I hope he runs against the fraud we have for governor.


crazy. sounds like typical politics. there must of been no cutback for the politicians to get paid. Sad day. over 4000 jobs for dade and broward county killed in one swoop. millions of dollars in tourism for big events killed in one swoop. way to go tallahassee. sounds like the politicians are making it personal.


the dolphins are bluffing when they say they are going to move, and Dee act like he is entitled to a handout, he is pure trash for him to have such a sense of entitlement. I say no to fixing their private stadium with tax money. they would of lost the vote


When a billionaire buys a sports team as a toy, he should be willing to pay for its stadium fix up. But, oops, we're told Ross & Co. didn't know how much fix up the stadium needed when he bought his new toy that plays there.

So being a spoiled billionaire he sent his minions off to Tallahassee to do a deal with politicians in which taxpayers from all across Florida, most of whom could never afford to attend a game, would help him foot the fix-up bill.

Not only should somebody have told Ross, "No!"; but they should have done it immediately, shown him the door, and told him not to come back.

Unfortunately, this smells like the pols using what the billionaire brat wants as leverage to get him to pony up more cash for their parties and committees, before they fork over taxpayers' cash. Hope not, but we'll see.

Bill Clay

WOW, even though they already lost, the paid shills for the Dolphins are still flooding the Herald forums. Buy a clue, lobbyists. The days of stealing our tax dollars to subsidize losing sports teams are over!


Stop standing up fot the Pasco County Republican! This Tampa Bay Bucs fan had his stadium paid for by the same funds that Ross was seeking. The move was a purely political one fueled by a desire to further his own career - nothing else.

SoFla Democrat

Well in this case his personal goals were in line with the greater good for the south florida community. Fix your own stadium Mr. Ross.

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