Miami Dolphins

Dolphins stadium renovation ‘one of the most difficult’ projects of Stephen Ross’ career

Stephen Ross is bankrolling a stadium renovation whose price tag is now a half-billion dollars.
Stephen Ross is bankrolling a stadium renovation whose price tag is now a half-billion dollars. adiaz@miamiherald.com

South Florida is back in the Super Bowl business.

Now come the hard parts: 1. Raise the tens of millions needed from public and private sources to put on the game;

And 2. Actually finish the half-billion dollar stadium renovation project.

Host committee chair Rodney Barreto has plenty of time for part 1. The game isn't for another four years.

But with just three months until the Dolphins' home preseason opener, the race to finish the roof is truly on.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross made his fortune in real estate. He’s built the Time Warner Center in New York, CityPlace in West Palm Beach and now the ambitious Hudson Yards project in downtown Manhattan, a 17-million square foot mixed use plan that is the city’s largest development since Rockefeller Center.

So when he says this about the two-year Dolphins stadium renovation enterprise, it carries weight:

“It's one of the most difficult [projects I’ve ever undertaken], Ross said Tuesday. “Putting up such a complex structure in such a short period of time stresses everybody. There's no room for error. That's the issue. There's no room for error.”

Here’s why: The Dolphins already have between 250 and 400 construction workers on site around the clock, and have done so since just after the New Year.

They are running at maximum efficiency, which has allowed them to stay on schedule. They recently put in the video boards, and the shade canopy should take shape in the coming weeks.

But a major hurricane or an unforeseen construction setback could jeopardize the Dolphins’ ability to hold their preseason home opener — Aug. 25 against the Falcons — at the stadium formerly known as Sun Life.

“We're trying to do it in the amount of time we have to do it,” said Ross, whose expertise in construction has kept an already over-budget project from ballooning by tens of millions more. “It's a very difficult task, so you have to stay on top of it on a daily basis. We couldn't start until Jan. 4 to put up the canopy and we can't stop in the middle. We know we have a stop date, which is the beginning of our games. You can't miss.”

As for Barreto’s job — fundraising for Super Bowl 54 — he got a head start on it Tuesday even before the league awarded Miami the 2020 game.

The NFL awarded the South Florida Committee Super Bowl 54 in 2020 during a Tues., May 24, 2016 meeting.

Barreto received several calls Tuesday morning from local businesses saying: “Listen, if you win, we’re in.”

Barreto chose to keep those names private for now. But he did reveal this detail: Pitbull, Mr. 305 himself, has already informally agreed to play a significant role in Super Bowl Week 2020.

“You’ve got to be in it to win it and we’re in it, we won it, and now we’ll execute,” Barreto said. “We execute probably better than anybody.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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