Dolphins season-ticket holders on the Monday evening conference call with franchise owner Stephen Ross should have no doubt: Ross likes to roll with the new.
New look for the Dolphins stadium, new look for the Dolphins uniforms, new coaching staff, new results leading to new game times. And, yes, not the old Dolphins fight song.
Taking that last part first — season-ticket holders brought up the fight song more than anything else — Ross insisted he retains a distaste for the banjo-strummed ode to the early 1970s Dolphins (later ripped off by the late 1970s Houston Oilers). The song’s exposure in Sun Life Stadium will be limited to Dolphins scores while the team’s ahead with Jimmy Buffet’s Fins blaring after other Dolphins scores.
“The one thing I never liked from Day One was the fight song,” Ross said. “I guess that’s part of the privilege of ownership, but I understand the fans like it, so that will continue to be our policy.”
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As far as that team on the field, Ross responded positively when one season-ticket holder proposed a fashion makeover for the Dolphins.
“I totally agree with you,” Ross said. “We’re looking at all of that.”
The Marlins went for new threads upon leaving Sun Life for Marlins Park. Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said that departure could allow for some other changes to 25-year-old Sun Life Stadium.
The Dolphins want to move the sideline stands closer to the field, something that should please fans who have spent 25 years sighing that even a full house in Miami Gardens doesn’t rock with an intimidating feel the way the Orange Bowl could. Dee claimed Sun Life has the largest seat-to-field distance in the NFL.
Ross reiterated the Dolphins’ drive to make improvements to Sun Life that would satisfy the NFL enough to bring Super Bowl L to South Florida. He mentioned the concept the Dolphins showed the NFL two years ago, a stadium canopy that would keep the fans dry on rainy days (such as Super Bowl XLI) and in the shade on sunny ones.
“I think by the end of the summer, we’ll have some plan to present to you and the league,” Ross said. “It’s never going to be an enclosed stadium. Nobody in Florida wants to be in a dome [for football].”
That would also allow the field to roast, particularly in early season 1 p.m. games. All eight Dolphins home games will be at 1 p.m., three in the first six games of the season.
As Dee started to wax happily about the timing that would bring South Florida’s legendary humidity into the game for the Dolphins, Ross interrupted with, “I’m not looking forward to it. We’re at one o’clock because they didn’t want to see us in prime time.”
Prime time’s for winners, as best stated by, ironically, former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano who once said of the Dolphins 2008 schedule coming off a 1-15 season, “We played 16 one o’clock games. I think I got the point.”
That 2008 season was Ross’ first with a half interest in the Dolphins. Sparano, general manager Jeff Ireland and football operations head Bill Parcells all had been brought on two months before Ross became a co-owner with Wayne Huizenga, a point Ross brought up on the conference call.
“I didn’t make the decision to hire the former coach and wasn’t really involved in that administration and that decision making,” he said. “Right now, I guess I can be judged by how this administration does.”
He also said, “It’s the first time now that I’ve been able to hire the people in the organization. It’s exciting, and now we got to see what happens, and I’m very anxious to start seeing that.”
Asked what he thought his role was as owner, Ross said, “I think the role of any owner is to support anything it takes to be a winning organization. Hire the best people and not micromanage them.”
Team signs FB
Tuesday, the Dolphins signed fullback Ryan Mahaffey, who played in five games for Indianapolis last year after being signed off Baltimore’s practice squad. They waived Derek Moye, a free agent rookie wide receiver out of Penn State.