Miami Dolphins

Sun Life Stadium face-lift finally gets underway

Rendering of proposed changes to Sun Life Stadium, showing partial roof covering.
Rendering of proposed changes to Sun Life Stadium, showing partial roof covering. DOLPHINS

It took five years of political posturing before the Miami Dolphins and Miami-Dade County agreed on a deal to renovate obsolete Sun Life Stadium.

It will only take some 19 months until the multi-use complex looks like new.

Construction on the 28-year-old home of the Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes began in earnest Monday with the removal of seats in the building’s northeast upper deck.

Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel, who brokered the deal with the county, tweeted out a picture of the efforts, along with a short message: “Here we go …”

The team isn’t just slapping a fresh coat of paint on the building. It’s a complete rehab job.

The modernization will include a weather canopy and upgrades to suites, premium seating and entertainment space, along with a redesign of the main seating bowl.

Additionally, high-definition scoreboards will be placed in each corner; each screen will have a “founding partner” that will generate additional advertisement revenue. The Dolphins also are adding a permanent stage to the parking lot for smaller-scale concerts.

The work will be done in stages; the seating bowl should be ready for the start of the 2015 season, while the roof will take another year to complete.

As part of the deal with the county, Stephen Ross agreed to pay for or borrow $350 million of the project’s $400 million price tag. In return, the Dolphins will be paid a subsidy by the county for bringing major events to the Miami Gardens facility.

The deal passed the Miami-Dade County Commission last June, but the Dolphins held off on the most disruptive work until the football season ended.

The stadium, which along with the Dolphins is owned by Ross, is currently carrying roughly $210 million in debt — a number expected to grow by $100 million with the upcoming renovations, Fitch Ratings announced late last year.