Miami Dolphins owner defends Sun Life Stadium deal

Stephen Ross wants to modernize Sun Life Stadium


PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told Local 10's Michael Putney why he wants Miami-Dade County taxpayers to contribute to renovations at Sun Life Stadium during an interview at Local1 10's studio in Pembroke Park Friday.

The Dolphins say that their 25-year-old stadium needs at least $350 million in improvements to remain competitive with newer stadiums around the NFL.

"This is really a public-private partnership," replied Ross. "I think by my doing this, it's really my feeling for the community and doing something that's impactful, and being a businessman, you want to kind of align the interest if you will, though I'm paying for a great majority of it, probably 70 percent of it."

The Miami Marlins paid 25 percent of the cost of their new stadium, which stands in the way of the Dolphins winning voter support in the May 14 referendum. Voters will decide whether to increase the hotel bed tax in mainland Miami-Dade by one percent to help fund renovations at the stadium.

"Why is this deal different than the Marlins deal?" said Ross. "One, I knew I couldn't offer the same thing. I'm putting up 70 percent of the money in today's values and, in fact, probably more than that if you look at the real cost. I'm optimistic about what I can bring it down to. And, you're creating a stadium that is going to be a new stadium, tantamount to a new stadium."

The 30-year economic development grant struck between Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the Dolphins includes a non-relocation agreement. The Dolphins have offered to pay the county and the state back the money it receives from a sales tax rebate of $3 million a year for 30 years.

The state legislature is considering a bill that would authorize the rebate and also raise the hotel bed tax. Under the Senate version of the bill, the Dolphins would have to compete for that money with other professional sports franchises in the state.

The Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers, who will move into a new stadium next year, are vying for Super Bowl L in 2016. The loser will compete against the Houston Texans to host Super Bowl LI in 2017.

NFL team owners will announce the locations of Super Bowls L and LI on May 22 in Boston.

"We're bringing in tourists to come to those Super Bowls. [We're] keeping people employed and bringing new jobs, new opportunities here. It's about the economic development," he said. "It's the taxi drivers, it's the restaurant tours, it's the hotels -- filling them up. That's what Miami needs to keep going."

You can watch the rest of Michael's interview with Stephen Ross on "This Week in South Florida" at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, April 21.