Dolphins’ Owner Will Pay for Most of $400 Million Stadium Update

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said he’s prepared to pay “the majority of costs” for renovations to the National Football League team’s stadium that include a canopy suspended over the seats to protect fans from the elements.

Ross said he wouldn’t ask for an increase on local taxpayers to help fund the renovations, while pledging to invest more and return more to fans than in any other stadium with a public share.

No projected cost for the renovations or public subsidy was included in a statement sent by the team. The Miami Herald said the cost would be about $400 million, with the project’s public share financed with help from a one-penny increase on hotel room taxes and an increased state tax rebate for Florida’s professional sports teams.

“My goal is to secure the future of Miami-Dade and the Dolphins so we can remain a global competitor for sports and entertainment for at least another 25 years,” Ross, the founder of Related Cos. LP, said in the release. “That’s why I’m willing to make the initial and most substantial investment in this project.”

The 25-year-old stadium’s website says it “was the first of its kind to be constructed entirely with private funds.”

Renderings of the renovation show a roof suspended from poles covering the stadium’s seating area, while leaving opening for air and light, which would help preserve the natural grass playing surface. The plan also include more comfortable seats, new video screens and improved views, the release said.

Canopy Roof

The Dolphins proposed adding a canopy-style roof in January 2010, saying the stadium trailed covered buildings in Dallas, New Orleans and Indianapolis in the race to host Super Bowls and might not win a record 11th bid for the title without something to protect fans from downpours like the one that doused the 2007 game between the Colts and Chicago Bears.

The Miami venue needs to be “state-of-the-art” to compete for Super Bowls, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at a December 2009 luncheon at the stadium, the Associated Press reported. Ross said in a public “Pledge to the Community” today that Miami was “on the clock” in bidding for the 50th anniversary Super Bowl in 2016.

In 2008, the city and county agreed to fund a baseball stadium for the Miami Marlins that the Herald said wound up costing $639 million. Miami-Dade County financed its $347.5 million share with a $319.3 million bond issue in July 2009 and subsequent debt sales. Revenue such as taxes on stays at hotels and motels backs the borrowings.

That finance plan came under fire in late 2012 when the Marlins finished last in the National League East division and then traded away most of their top players, including shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson.

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