Now that efforts to secure public funding for Sun Life Stadium renovations have failed in varying degrees in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, is a move to Palm Beach an option?
Miami Dolphins CEO Mike Dee certainly didn’t dismiss it Thursday.
At a brief meeting with reporters, Dee was asked directly if the team would consider relocating to Palm Beach County, if a stadium was built for them there.
“We’re open minded to all long-term solutions,” Dee responded.
Palm Beach County has not offered the Dolphins anything of the sort as of Thursday.
Dee later said: “You can’t close the door on anything. I wouldn’t say it’s a priority to evaluate that and march down that road at this time, by any means, but the simple fact is we have to address a long-term issue with the venue. All ideas — good, bad, indifferent — should be considered.”
The Dolphins have called Miami-Dade County home since their inception in 1966, playing first at the Orange Bowl and for the past 26 years at Sun Life Stadium.
Even after last week’s defeat in Tallahassee, the team intends to improve its stadium situation, either by making improvements to the current facility, or as Dee acknowledged Thursday, moving into a new venue.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who owns a home in Palm Beach, pledged to keep the team in town, even if his bid for state and county funding for renovations failed.
It is unclear if that pledge meant just Miami-Dade, or anywhere in the tri-county area.
“What we said the other day was that the future of this venue is certainly uncertain,” Dee said. “At this point, there’s no Plan B that includes another venue. But down the road, who knows?”
The San Francisco 49ers will move to their new stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2014. Santa Clara is 44 miles from San Francisco, and Levi’s Stadium is one of the venues bidding for Super Bowl L.
In the short term, however, the Dolphins appear stuck with Sun Life Stadium, where they drew their smallest home attendance in more than two decades in 2012.
Those empty seats — along with tens of millions of dollars in bonuses paid to recently signed free agents — has the franchise working at a loss. The Dolphins told Miami-Dade County Commissioners they expect to lose $41 million this year.
However, Dee said that — unlike the Marlins, who infamously gutted their payroll after just one season at their new ballpark — the team will not cut corners when it comes to the on-field product.
“The outcome of the stadium will have no impact on the way we address the needs of the football team,” Dee said. “Absolutely none.”