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1 posts from January 14, 2013

January 14, 2013

Good news for Panthers fans; Reaction to latest Heat loss; UM's proposed capacity reduction

### Good news for Panthers fans: Fox told us Tuesday that the network and Panthers have decided to air all 48 regular-season games in this lockout shortened season. Forty-two will air on FS-Florida, the other six on Sun Sports.

NBC and NBC Sports Network did not include their Panthers in their TV schedule released Monday. The Panthers open Saturday against visiting Carolina.

### How odd was it to see Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the bench down the stretch of the Heat's 104-97 loss at Utah on Monday?

Erik Spoelstra stuck with the lineup that helped Miami rally from a big deficit: LeBron James, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony and Rashard Lewis, who was taken out of mothballs.

Bosh didn't play in the fourth quarter until the final minute. Wade didn't play at all in the fourth, a quarter when Miami outscored the Jazz, 32-20.

Did Wade, who closed with 11 points in 29 minutes, expect to go back in the game? "I don't know," he said. "I always stay ready.... Coach makes the calls. I'm just a player."

And Bosh? "I was ready for it, but the call didn't come."

Of his decision not to re-insert Wade or Bosh late, Spoelstra admitted: "I'll probably be thinking about that on the flight" to Oakland for Wednesday's game against Golden State.

Bosh had 16 points but just one rebound in 27 minutes -- unacceptable on a night Miami was again pounded on the  boards (40-23). 

Bosh had a curious take after the game: "Sometimes I have to compete with my guy for a rebound," he said. "Sometimes I have to beat my own teammate to it."

Then he added: "Sometimes I just get beat. I'm human."

James, who scored 32 points in 45 minutes, blamed the loss on "low energy to start the game and low energy to the start the third quarter."

Spoelstra is starting to sound like a broken record after these road losses, the latest of which dropped the Heat to 8-9 away from home. "Everyone - staff, players - has to give more," he said. "They got so many easy baskets, jumpers with no one near them."

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For an overview of the Dolphins' stadium proposal, see our story on the home page. Here are some other developments to emerge from a meeting that stadium, UM and Dolphins officials had with Herald writers and editors:

### The University of Miami plans to reduce capacity for many of its football games at Sun Life Stadium if proposed stadium “modernization” goes forward, athletic director Blake James said Monday.

Under the proposal, capacity for UM games would be 72,000 for marquee games, but 52,000 for other games, James said. That reduction can be achieved by closing off upper end zone seats with tarps, according to Dolphins chief executive officer Mike Dee.

James and UM officials are enthusiastic about the proposed changes, which could go into effect for the 2015 season, because there will be 3700 additional lower bowl seats between the goal lines, and some sideline seats will be moved closer to the field.

Sun Life Stadium has never matched the intimacy of the Orange Bowl, but UM believes the changes will help.

They “get fans closer,” James said. “It’s great for our program. It will create a winning environment.”

The announced average attendance for UM’s six home games last season was 54,252 – a number driven up by an excellent crowd for the Florida State game (73,328) and a good turnout for the North Carolina game (58,954).

Each of the four other games had announced crowds between 37,219 (for the Thursday night Virginia Tech game) and 39,435 (for Bethune-Cookman).

### Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was asked how the Dolphins’ plea for public money will differ from the Marlins’ when they were pursuing a new ballpark.

Ross pointed out that he would contribute more than half of the $400 million cost, whereas the Marlins paid for $160 million of their $515 million ballpark.

The Dolphins also will need funding from a hotel tax and a state sales tax rebate, both of which would need government approval.

He also said the Dolphins would hire mostly local workers for construction. But the Marlins also did that; 61 percent of the workers on the project were from Miami-Dade.

And unlike the Marlins, Ross said he would be willing to make available his team’s financial records. “You can look at them,” he said. “We believe in transparency. When you open it up, you get a lot more accomplished in life…. I told the NFL they should have opened their books.”

Ross said the Dolphins are modestly profitable.

### Asked how anger about the Marlins’ payroll-purging could hurt the Dolphins’ efforts, Ross said: “I don’t know what they’re doing… I’m creating a winning football franchise.”

Dee cracked: “I’m not going to use the name of the ballpark to the south” – referring to Marlins Park. He added, of the Marlins: “We’re aware of the angst that exists. We have to let our actions speak louder than words.”

### If the stadium modernization goes forward, the Dolphins will add a general admission bar on the south side, using empty office space that was previously used by the Marlins.

### Ross said he’s waiting to see if this project will go forward before deciding whether to proceed with longstanding plans for a water park across from Sun Life Stadium. “We’ll look into the water park [regardless], but it’s best to do it together,” he said.

### As predictable as the sun rising: Norman Braman is against the Dolphins getting public money. "If he's looking out for the community, he should embrace it," Ross said. Of Braman's history of opposing use of public money on stadiums, Ross said: "I don't know if it's sour grapes."

### Among Ross’ messages to The Herald editorial board: “Not to have a first-class stadium would be crazy. We have to act like a first-class city.”