When the Dolphins on Wednesday broke ground on what promised to be a remarkable new home, the expectations were as high as the $100 million price tag.
“Nobody every won a Super Bowl training in Davie. Facts,” Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said. “Someone has won a Super Bowl training in Miami Gardens. Facts. If you want to win a Super Bowl, you train in Miami Gardens.”
So yes, Wednesday’s ceremony, featuring elected officials from the city and county level, was as much a forward-looking pep rally as a celebration of what has been accomplished.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The construction will take roughly 18 months — the Dolphins hope to move in early 2021 — and will apparently cost some $25 million more than previously announced.
But those details didn’t stop Wednesday’s party.
One by one, politicians, team leaders and representatives from Baptist Health, who bought the naming rights and will build an on-site orthopedic center, took the stage for a victory lap. Behind them on a big screen rotated images of what will surely be an upgrade over the team’s Davie facility since 1993.
How? The facility, which will be located in what is currently Lot 10 of Hard Rock Stadium, will be bigger and better than the existing team headquarters located at Nova Southeastern:
At 20 acres and 12,500 square feet, it will be roughly twice the size of the Dolphins’ current home, with more meeting rooms (10), more conference rooms (10) and a bigger auditorium.
The practice bubble will me no more, replaced by a permanent full-size indoor facility adjacent to two outdoor practice fields.
But perhaps the most significant upgrade will be to the Dolphins’ medical facilities.
Doctors Hospital Sports Medicine will open a Miami Gardens location on stadium grounds, making its doctors and technology available to the team and the public.
“Right now, if we need to go take an MRI or certain things, we have to borrow Nova’s underwater treadmill or those things,” Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said. “We’ll have the underwater treadmill right on site, we’ll have the MRI and the X-ray right on site. We’ll have everything right there. It will just make it more convenient for the players.”
The Dolphins picked Miami Gardens after considering expanding at Nova or building in Miramar. The privately funded project will be on land the team already owned.
Those were all important, but the deciding factor was likely when the county commission in 2018 voted to grant a 10-year extension to an existing 20-year stadium subsidy agreement that could deliver the team an extra $57.5 million in county dollars.
County Mayor Carlos Gimenez believes it’s a good deal for the county, and not just for the 100 jobs that officials believe will be added to the area.
“The state-of-the-art complex will be a boon to Miami-Dade in terms of job construction, both during the construction phase and for decades into the future, as it helps us attract new sporting events to our county,” Gimenez said. “By giving world-class athletes a top training location, this complex will dramatically improve our ability to bid and secure top sporting events, such as the 2026 World Cup, which I’m pretty sure we’re going to land. Future Super Bowls and maybe even a Formula 1 Grand Prix.”
An announcement on World Cup 2026 host cities has not been named, but most share Gimenez’s confidence that games — perhaps even a semifinal — will be held here.
Still, Garfinkel stressed that the complex will be built specifically for the needs of Stephen Ross’ football team.
“Buildings don’t win championships, but cultures and environments do to some degree and coaches and players certainly do,” Garfinkel said. “If we can support the coaching staff and players with a better environment to work in, more efficient environment to work in, more resources around them, it can only be a good thing. At the end of the day, players and coaches win championship, not buildings, but we certainly want to provide the best in class environment we can.”