In the rush of optimism after Steve Ross bought the Dolphins, he rounded up a glitzy cast of minority owners — including Marc Anthony, Emilio Estefan, the Williams sisters and Fergie — as a way to gin up a buzz around the franchise.
But at a critical moment for the organization, when every last vote is needed to pass a referendum for improving Sun Life Stadium with tax dollars, those luminaries have been noticeably out of the picture.
So too are the icons of the Dolphins’ glorious past, the Don Shulas, Dan Marinos and Larry Csonkas who made Miami’s football team a national brand and an object of civic pride.
With six weeks remaining before a possible vote on the plan, the Dolphins have no immediate plans to trot out their megawatt assets.
“We wanted to be respectful [in] utilizing star power to get our message across,” said Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, the team’s point man on the project. “This is, at the end of the day, really about economics.”
There’s another factor, of course. If you make rolling-in-dough superstars the face of your pitch to raise hotel taxes, Joe Citizen just might respond: “You’re loaded. Pay for the stadium improvements yourselves!”
Dee left some room for a star turn in pushing a proposal that polls show is so-far widely panned by Miami-Dade voters, who could have the final say on the idea.
But as the Dolphins gear up for a costly referendum campaign, there’s no sign they’ll have their A-list owners pounding the pavement.
“I don’t think you’ll see Marc Anthony singing a jingle, ‘Come vote on May 14,’ ” Dee joked.
It remains to be seen what kind of appetite these celebrities would have for mixing it up with Norman Braman and other entrenched opponents, even if asked.
Just last month, Estefan told The Miami Herald he planned to sit out the public stadium fight.
“I told Steve I don’t want to campaign … I would never ask for money personally,’’ Estefan said in February. “As a citizen, I can tell you, improving the stadium would be a great thing.”
And yet, Dee said Wednesday that Estefan “has been very helpful on a number of fronts,” when it comes to the stadium plan.
“He’s very well respected and he’s got good perspective on what the community will accept and what the community won’t,” Dee said. “He’s very well received in business and political circles. He’s been a great resource to us.”
Serena Williams, a Palm Beach County resident, is the No. 1 women’s tennis player in the world. She’s also been a part-owner of the Dolphins since 2009. Over the past two weeks, she’s competed in Key Biscayne’s Sony Open, speaking with local reporters almost every other day. However, the Dolphins didn’t push her to use that forum to advance their cause.
She spoke in favor of the renovations Thursday night, but only when prompted by a member of the South Florida media.
“We definitely want the Super Bowl in Miami,” Williams said. “We know we have to make some changes in the stadium in order to have it back.”
Such endorsements — done in a coordinated, and better publicized way — can sway votes, said Tadd Schwartz, a Miami publicist.