The Miami Dolphins are going to be operating back in Miami full-time as early as 2020.
The club announced what multiple sources had told the Miami Herald last month that the team plans to move its training facility from Davie to a new facility that will be located on the northwest side of Hard Rock Stadium.
Dolphins President and CEO Tom Garfinkel made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon during a press conference at Hard Rock Stadium.
“It’s been a moving target for a few years,” Garfinkel said. “It wasn’t necessarily a priority a few years ago. I think it came more to a head about a year ago and became something we discussed more seriously and now that the stadium is closer to being completed, it was like ‘what’s the next step in the evolution of the organization to really be best in class? And every year we’ve had needs there and we’ve sort of just put band-aids on and we just decided we needed to build a first-class facility.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Garfinkel said the Dolphins hope the new training headquarters will be ready by 2020 at the earliest, will be built on team-owned lands and is likely to cost at least $75-$80 million.
In the run-up to the announcement, Dolphins lobbyists secured an expanded subsidy deal with Miami-Dade that could bring more than $60 million to the franchise over the next several decades. The agreement, approved last month by the County Commission, increased the current $5 million cap on yearly stadium subsidies to $5.75 million under a 2014 agreement tied to the team’s private renovation of Hard Rock.
The Dolphins have called Nova Southeastern University home for a quarter century.
This move will put all team employees together in the same place.
For decades, ticketing and business staffs worked at the stadium while football operations were in Davie. The Dolphins join a growing number of NFL teams that have decided to practice where they play.
“We’ve enjoyed a really healthy and productive relationship with Nova Southeastern University,” Garfinkel said. “They’ve been great partners to us so this is in no way a reflection of anything negative there whatsoever. I think it’s just that we’ve been there now many years and we’ve kind of outgrown the facility. Players have to walk across an access hallway to get from the locker room to the shower. It’s been inconvenient.
“When we moved into that facility in the early 90s, we had a bench press and a couple of bikes and some different things. Now, the training regiments and the hot and cold tubs and all those things have become much more sophisticated. Things like underwater treadmills and those types of things are things that are required for these professional athletes so we’ve kind of run out of space. So the first thing this will do is allow us to build a state-of-the-art facility that has enough space for all of these needs.”
Garfinkel also elaborated on how the move will help attract future bids to host major events at the stadium including World Cup 2026.
Hard Rock Stadium is also hosting Super Bowl LIV and the 2021 FBS National Championship Game.
The move would bring Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ total investment in his stadium property to more than $600 million since 2015. Ross has spent a half-billion dollars on renovating Hard Rock, and is also funding the construction to host the Miami Open beginning in 2019.
Garfinkel also addressed the concerns about parking since the new football headquarters could cut into the stadium’s thousands of parking spots. But with 10,000 fewer stadium seats than the lots were originally designed for and plans to build two pedestrian bridges — Garfinkel said may be ready by the 2019 season — to facilitate movement from the lots to the stadium, the team was confident it would be able to accommodate the demand on game days.
“I just think we’re all lucky to have Stephen Ross as an owner and that he has the capacity and willingness to invest in big ideas,” Garfinkel said. “What we’ve done with the stadium making it a world-class destination, we’re lucky to have someone like him. Without his investment we’re not getting the Super Bowl, or the college football championship or the Miami Open or any of that. All of that goes to the benefit of South Florida.”