The question the Dolphins still have not answered is the most basic one: Why doesn’t team and stadium owner Stephen Ross pay for the upgrades himself? Forbes says he’s worth $4.4 billion, so it’s not as if he can’t afford it. So why doesn’t he pay? He hasn’t answered that question directly, and until he does I suspect that voters — if it ever comes to a vote — will never approve spending tax dollars for Sun Life.
Jeffrey Loria is a dour, arrogant egotist who at least knew, while the Marlins stadium was percolating, that he shouldn’t be the public face of the ball club. He left that role for his onetime stepson, Marlins president David Samson, a clever, wise-cracking lawyer whose tendency to spout off almost wrecked the baseball stadium deal.
The public face of the Dolphins stadium deal has been Mike Dee, a media-savvy professional sports executive who’s unknown to most people in South Florida. His only misstep was to tell me a few weeks ago that, “Just because somebody is wealthy enough doesn’t mean he should invest money in a way that is unwise.” So Ross doesn’t make “unwise” investments, but taxpayers should?
The only person who can set the record straight on all this is Steve Ross. If he wants close to $200 million in tourist tax money for the stadium, he needs to step forward to explain why. He also needs to tell us why upgrades estimated at $225 million a couple of years ago will now cost close to $400 million. Ross needs to further explain why a Super Bowl, whatever the number, with its astronomical ticket prices and events that exclude everyone but the very wealthy and connected, benefits the entire South Florida community.
Mr. Ross, if nearly $200 million in tax dollars for a pro-profit sports franchise worth close to $1 billion isn’t corporate welfare, what is?