January 12, 2009

Circumstances surrounding the Dolphins' sale

Early last week Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga and owner-in-waiting Stephen Ross talked about closing the sale of the team.

During that conversation Ross told Huizenga he needed to postpone going forward on the sale for about one week because he had some affairs to attend to out of town and he simply would not be around. Ross also told Huizenga he needed to get his minority investors lined up and ready to go and that would take some fine-tuning, which also required time. Ross, in case you weren't aware, intends to bring a handful of minority investors on board, not the least of which is Huizenga, who will keep a five percent stake in the Dolphins.

Bottom line: Ross told Huizenga to give him a week or so, and then they could get the sale ironed out soon thereafter.

Well, the timing of that signals something should happen with the sale of the Dolphins this week. The timing is right for this week because it meets Huizenga's need to divest of the team before the new presidential administration takes office and tries to push through new tax laws that could hurt Huizenga.

The timing also would be right for Ross for several reasons: Ross is eager to set into motion some team business initiatives he's been working on. He needs to get on board with decision-making powers to move those initiatives forward. Ross also doesn't want people, particularly Huizenga, starting to doubt his word. And Ross needs to give Bill Parcells (assuming Parcells remains with the team) and Jeff Ireland a budget for the opening of free agency in about six weeks.

The point Miami fans should be focused on most is the football budget because 2009 is scheduled to be the NFL's last capped season while 2010 is currently scheduled to be uncapped. Any moves in free agency and the money spent therein must take that fact into account and so the football side needs to have a budget for that.

So this is what you should expect if all is right with the Dolphins and their two-headed ownership: Huizenga and Ross will close the sale either this week or early next week and Ross will get the keys to his $1.1 BILLION team and stadium.

But there is a rub. If the deal doesn't get done within this time period, it may be wise to assume something is amiss. There are rumors circulating some NFL circles that Ross is struggling to get the money to complete the sale.

Credit is tight these days and that, plus the fact Ross is counting on unknown minority investors to come through on their promises is giving some skeptics pause. It doesn't help perception that Ross is prominent among a group of commercial real-estate investors, all rich beyond imagination, who are asking the government for a financial bailout. When a rich person is asking for what amounts to government welfare, it raises questions about that person's liquidity.

The chances that Ross doesn't complete the purchase of the Dolphins seem slim. Forbes Magazine says he's worth $4.5 BILLION and was the 78th richest dude in America in 2008. But stuff happens so this is not a slam dunk. The financial crisis has changed things in America overnight. These are uncertain times.

And so watch for the Dolphins sale this week or early next to close the door on the uncertainty as it pertains to Ross. Or, in the absence of a timely deal, watch for that uncertainty to snowball and threaten an avalanche.

May 22, 2008

How much does Wayne Huizenga really know?

Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga puzzles me.

I know he has a brilliant business mind because he is the only person in America to be responsible for six companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and to have three make the Fortune 500 list. Everything he touches makes money and the Dolphins are no different as his investment in the team will eventually bring him 10 times what he paid.

But ...

The man apparently does not know what is going on with his most recognized company. On Wednesday morning you might have read that Huizenga told my colleague Barry Jackson in an exclusive interview that he would not tell Bill Parcells what to do on the Jason Taylor matter.

No problem. The hands off owner is being, well, hands off.

But Huizenga also said in the article that, "as far as I'm concerned, [Taylor's] happy [here]." He went on to tell Jackson that he's read accounts of Taylor being disgruntled and asking to be traded but simply didn't believe the stories in the press.

To which I respond: Amaaaaazing!

So let's break this down because, frankly, I cannot fathom this stuff. [Huizenga, by the way, will be a chapter in my Dolphins book someday.] On the same day the owner of the Dolphins tells the biggest media outlet that regularly covers the team he believes Taylor is happy in Miami, the head coach holds a press conference to announce Taylor ain't showing up for OTAs, ain't showing up for voluntary and mandatory minicamps and ain't showing up for TRAINING CAMP.

Sound like a happy player to you?

That leaves me only two possible explanations. Either Mr. H was lying stretching the truth when he talked to Jackson or he is simply out of the loop, unaware and uninformed. I don't believe Huizenga said something he didn't believe to be the case.

So I have to conclude that he is just ignorant to some things that are going on, even some significant things such as this.

And that lack of awareness comes despite the fact Huizenga was at the team facility during draft weekend -- while the Dolphins were trying to trade Taylor. It comes despite the fact he visited during the rookie minicamp and had ample opportunity to speak to Bill Parcells or Jeff Ireland or Sparano or anybody else he wanted because he's the friggan' owner.

So what we have here is another example of why the Dolphins got so putrid the past decade. In many respects, their problem started at the top.

An update about this blog: Yesterday was significant in that Dolphins In Depth surpassed 1 million page views for the year. We're at 1,005,543 and the season isn't even here yet. I thank you for visiting. And tell other Dolfans about it.