Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross shows fans what loyalty looks like

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Before more time passes, we would like to offer a tip of the hat, for once, to the owner of a local professional sports team.

Miami Dolphins owner, billionaire Stephen Ross, took a courageous stand this week at the National Football League annual meeting, one that should give South Floridians a glimpse into what makes him tick — and explains the obligation to Miami that this Detroit native feels.

The wealthiest people in the NFL — the team owners, an elite fraternity of 32 men and women, met on Monday to discuss whether to support, as a body, the Oakland Raiders’ move to a new city, Las Vegas, breaking the hearts of Raider Nation fans. Such relocations need the league’s approval.

The vote was taken. Only one NFL owner said No, opposing the Raiders’ move to Sin City: That was Ross.

In a statement after the 31-1 vote, Ross explained why he broke with his peers and become a renegade.

He said he didn’t think that the Raiders had met the relocation criteria by doing all they could to find a workable solution to stay in the Bay Area.

“My position today was that we as owners and as a League owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted,” Ross said in his statement. Even the Twitterverse went nuts with praise.

In team owner-hating Miami, some might say that Ross was just showboating or that he’s a hypocrite since he, like Raider owner Mark Davis, was strapped with an aging stadium. Four years ago, Ross took his bid to win $289 million in taxpayer money to renovate then-Sun Life Stadium all the way to Tallahassee. His power move failed at the last minute.

This Editorial Board chastised the real-estate tycoon, who is the chairman and majority owner of The Related Companies, for seeking public funds to help give his team a shiny renovated stadium, an overdue overhaul needed, he said to attract another Super Bowl to Miami.

But here’s what makes Ross different from the Oakland Raiders’ owner.

When confronted, and insulted, by a show of no support and a cold shoulder from Florida lawmakers, Ross did not take his football and move his team to another city. He stayed because one option still remained.

He swallowed hard, dug deep, and ponied up his own money — a whopping $500 million. To his credit, he has transformed the old stadium into a pretty nice place, with a retractable roof, so no performer like the late Prince will ever be rained on again.

What a crazy move by Ross — or not. Now that he has a new stadium, and he’s deeply invested in it, he’s back in the news for his effort to attract the Miami Open tennis tournament to the Miami Gardens stadium, which would bring some cachet to the city. Oh, and Miami will host Super Bowl 54 in 2020.

We are impressed with Ross’ moral compass at the NFL meeting: When the going gets tough, you just don’t walk away as Davis has done. You stick it out. For his stance, which we think is truly heartfelt, not an owner’s ploy for pats on the back, we commend Ross.

Way to represent your host community — by standing by it.