David J. Neal

David J. Neal: Let the Miami Dolphins wallow in their own pity party

The Dolphins sounded more like losers on this spring Sunday than they usually do on fall Sundays.

Dolphins players and coaches tend to suffer their nine-to-15 losses per season with class, focusing public comments on what they failed to do that day. It’s the approach of the working class, the class most often producing NFL talent.

Sunday, the Dolphins front office took Friday’s loss in the Florida Legislature with pouting, pointing fingers, threats … the whine of the upper class among which NFL owners number themselves.

Pout: Presumably speaking for his boss, Dolphins and stadium owner Stephen Ross, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said on WFOR-CBS 4 Sunday all improvements were off for now after the Dolphins’ attempt to get public funds for a $350million renovation of Sun Life Stadium died in the Florida House.

Oh, so now the Dolphins and Ross, who were prepared to share the cost of this makeover, suddenly can’t put any of their own money into the stadium?

Guess that whole “do what you can” philosophy most of us have to use every day concerning homes, cars and appliances doesn’t fly when you’re used to getting your way.

The place could use some work. Of the 30 other NFL stadiums, only seven predate the Dolphins’ 1987-built home or haven’t received a significant makeover since then (i.e. Chicago’s Soldier Field).

“I don’t think Steve or anyone else knew the condition of the facility was as desperate as it was,” Dee said.

Ross made his beaucoup bucks in real estate. He’s buying a billion dollar business and the building that houses that business and he didn’t bother to do a thorough check on the then-20-year-old building? Don’t cry now.



House Speaker Will Weatherford got the brunt of it for refusing to allow the bill to be heard. While that does seem unfair on the face of it, this smacks of players blaming the referee.

After all, Weatherford acted knowing he wouldn’t face retribution from the entire Miami-Dade regiment of folks in the House.

The team effort from down here the Dolphins and Ross needed to push such a contentious proposal forward never coalesced. Not everybody agreed with the game plan, memories of the Marlins and an angry voting populace fresh.



Dee compared having a competitive stadium in Super Bowl bids to having a good quarterback. Not satisfied to reiterate the no-more-Super Bowls warning the NFL and Dolphins have been pushing really since the freak rainstorm Super Sunday six years ago, Dee didn’t out-of-hand rule out the Dolphins moving.

First on the Super Bowls … most hotels enjoy full occupancy in February. Money and celebrity migrate to the Miami metropolitan area anyway.

But Super Bowls and college football national championship games give hotels the best excuse for multiplying even high-season room rates, parking rates, service fees for room service. Clubs do the same. And the party people pay happily, drink big and, occasionally, tip big.

The economic impact falls well short of the numbers Super Bowl host committees trumpet. To discount the bonus dollars out of hand, however, is foolish.

Also, let’s just say right now: the NFL isn’t moving the Dolphins anywhere.

History restricted neither of the Colts move from Baltimore nor the original Browns from Cleveland. Nor does nostalgia for 1972 and No. 13 whistling touchdown passes moor the Dolphins to South Florida. Numbers do.

The NFL lives off of television money. Like our other professional sports teams, the Dolphins television reach includes the No. 16-ranked Miami-Fort Lauderdale market and the No. 38-ranked West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce market.

That combination means, in effect, this is the No. 8 market, just ahead of Washington D.C., and Atlanta.

That’s why the NHL’s Panthers, despite their troubles of the last 13 years, aren’t going anywhere. The NHL won’t find another market that large that’ll give up an arena lease as sweet as the one the Panthers have with Broward County.

Similarly, the NFL’s not letting a team move out of the No. 8 market unless those trucks have a military escort. Out in the No. 2 market, NFL-free-since-1995 Los Angeles, stadium plans plunge ahead with no tenant. That would be a true threat without potential moves of Buffalo, San Diego, Jacksonville and St. Louis each offering the NFL a bigger market upgrade than the Los Angeles Dolphins.

Stephen Ross and the Dolphins need to move forward. Make the stadium improvements they can without public money. This is still South Florida. If the NFL and major college football don’t want to bring their big parties here, fine.

If not, we’ll live with having a good time with someone else.

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