Stephen Ross was in good spirits Friday. He talked about those neon orange pants the Dolphins are going to unveil next week as part of their new uniforms (he was kidding, no orange pants). He joked about the identity of the team’s first-round draft pick.
But on the subject of upgrades to Sun Life Stadium, Ross was all business:
Question: Why should voters help give you or any billionaire public money to help fund a private enterprise such as the upgrades to Sun Life Stadium?
Ross: “Well, first of all, the benefits of this, the public is the one that really benefits. As we disclosed in our financials, we don’t make a lot of money. In fact, we lose a lot of money. How do you turn that around? By winning football games. And how do you fill your seats? By winning football games. What we’re talking about here won’t really bring any fans in if I’m not winning. It’s on the margin. But when I bought the team and told you then, I wanted to bring South Florida together and see what it can do to enhance the community. Miami is growing and becoming one of the great cities of the world. It’s probably the hottest city in the world right now. It’s the most aspirational city in the world right now. And it needs to bring marquee events and establish itself there. This will help bring marquee events. We’re talking about BCS Bowls and Super Bowls and I guarantee we’ll get that. [Events] do want to be in Miami. But you don’t want to give them an excuse not to come to Miami. Right now, there’s an excuse for them not to come to Miami. Why? Because of the facility. In addition, we will take it upon ourselves to bring other marquee events to Miami. As you saw, two days ago we announced the Guinness International Cup with Fox Sports to bring eight international teams to participate in a tournament. It will also be in other cities with the semifinals and finals to be played in Miami. The idea is to make this a recurring international event with major impact. That’s major. That’s major for the local economy. It’s economic development. That means jobs. Who’s benefiting? It’s really a public-private partnership.”
Q: Mayor Carlos Gimenez demanded that public dollars be linked to the awarding of Super Bowl 50 or Super Bowl 51 and you have done that. Why are you so confident you can get one of those games?
Ross: “Because I really believe that the National Football League wants to be here and bring Super Bowls. Super Bowls are played in January and February. This is the warmest place in the country. This is where people want to party. This is where they want to bring their sponsors. They’ve had the most successful Super Bowls here. But you saw what happened when other cities built facilities and we continued to be in the Orange. Bowl. There was a 10-year hiatus of Super Bowls … When they built Joe Robbie, the Super Bowl came back so you can say we had 10 Super Bowls in 37 years. I’m betting on that, and I’m betting on the fact that this is the legacy I want to give the community.”
Q: Is it a certainty in your mind that if you don’t get the upgrades you will not be awarded future Super Bowls?
Ross: “… The feeling from the owners is they’re not going to come here. And the league is rewarding those cities that have modern facilities with Super Bowls. Why are we going to New York? Because they built a new stadium. And you have all these new stadiums that are either proposed or under construction — San Francisco, Minneapolis. Atlanta is building a new facility with a retractable roof. These are the type of things we’re competing with. The owners recognize it so I really believe they want to be here and if we have the facilities, they will come.”