The long fight appears to finally be over for Miami Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross. Today, the Miami-Dade county commissioners approved a plan that would grant Ross and the Dolphins monetary reimbursement for major events brought to Miami by the stadium. The decision paves the way for Ross to begin contracting work on the $350 million dollar renovation plan.
In addition to the plan, Ross is expected to sign a 3o-year deal to keep the team in South Florida.
The battle for the stadium renovations began two years ago when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made comments regarding the health of Sun-Life Stadium. Goodell told members of the Dolphins executive committee that without renovations to the stadium, a Super Bowl would not return. Since then, two have been awarded and Miami was not selected.
The stadium is not in complete disarray as some would believe. The South Florida location does not suffer weather changes that corrode or wear down the structure. The upgrades are considered to be functional, structural and aesthetic changes. Proposed changes by the Dolphins also include moving the fans closer to the field of play. Miami currently has the largest distance between fans and the field in the entire NFL.
In addition to the added seating, the Dolphins’ plan includes removal of upper deck corner seating where large HD screens will give fans a clearer view of replays. Currently, two large screens sit in the upper decks on both end zones, which are now expected to be removed and seating to be adjusted accordingly. The biggest changes, however, will come in the aesthetic design of the stadium itself.
A longtime problem with South Florida fans has been the tremendous heat that bears down on them during games. Both at 1 PM and 4 PM ET kick-0ffs. A massive canopy is planned for the stadium’s roof, which will allow fans to experience the elements with less direct sunlight. The field will remain the same and out of shade.
The canopy will also serve to protect fans from inclement weather, while allowing the natural play on the field unchanged. The Dolphins are also hoping that the canopy will re-direct fan noise back towards the field to increase home-field advantage.
Today’s vote is a somber victory for Stephen Ross, who has been fighting with politicians for two years regarding the project. Ross with support from the NFL will foot the majority of the bill himself and will receive no money up front from the city. Instead, the team will receive money for events that are brought to the area.