Dolphins: We built our stadium all wrong, fix it please?

Miami Dolphins officials dropped by the Miami Herald offices on Friday, and one of the discussion items was the team’s unhappiness with Sun Life Stadium’s current seating arrangement:

“We have the furthest distance from the sidelines with our lower bowl in the NFL,” {Dolphins president Mike] Dee said. “We have the fewest number of seats in that lower seating level between the 20 yard lines, between the goal lines, in the NFL. Not just the facilities that compete for Super Bowls. We’ve got to fix that …

“At the same time, we may look to amend capacity in areas where we may have too much. Right now, we have the largest upper deck in the NFL — 35,000 seats. The next facility in line is 27,000. The Redskins took 10,000 seats out of their upper deck this past year. We’re looking at all those things to retrofit the stadium to today’s standards.”

And by “we,” Herald reporter Armando Salguero makes clear, Dee meant “someone other than us”:

[T]hat costs money. And neither the legislature, nor local politicians are volunteering to pay for that. The public would likely vote down a ballot measure for such expenditure. And owner Stephen Ross is in no hurry to spend the multiple millions of dollars it would cost to do the project.

Not noted in the article: The Dolphins actually own Sun Life Stadium, having built it in 1987 with private funds. (The distant sidelines were so that the stadium could also host baseball as a way of boosting revenues — something that worked even better when then-owner Wayne Huizenga sold the Marlins but kept collecting high-priced rent.)

For the moment, Salguero speculates that the Dolphins could tarp off part of the upper deck to reduce capacity, but it sure sounds like this is the start of a renewed Dolphins campaign to ask for public money to renovate their private stadium, after last year’s attempts crashed and burned so spectacularly.

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9 comments on “Dolphins: We built our stadium all wrong, fix it please?

  1. It aggrieves me that Joe Robbie built that stadium with private money, but he is no longer honored for it by having his name on it. It makes me a little sad that someone who cares so strongly about public/private funding either didn’t know or didn’t bother to mention his name when discussing the funding of the stadium. No good deed, etc.

  2. mend capacity in areas where we may have too much…
    translation – too many “cheap” tickets

    retrofit the stadium to today’s standards…
    translation – more high priced “club” tickets w/psl’s and other fees.

    the present owners knew the layout of the place when they bought the franchise, they knew that they were going to put the arm on taxpayers to increase their profits (one way or another) when they signed up.

    southeastern florida taxpayers have been fleeced for one boondoggle already, this would only compound the problem.
    it’s time to stand up to big league sports franchise owners (and performers) and not swallow their schemes.

  3. Let’s be fair here. The NFL is not coming back for another Super Bowl until that stadium is fixed. And we should all be able to acknowledge that the Miami area is far bigger beneficiary than the Dolphins are when the Super Bowl is played there.

    The Dolphins should chip in something, but if the local governments/voters go all tea party on this one they’ll be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

  4. Ben;

    Indianapolis will lose money (just under a million as I understand it, which is not huge… unless you are going broke fulfilling the scandalous terms of the stadium deal signed previously) on this year’s superbowl. Glendale famously lost more than twice that the last time (?) they hosted.

    Now, there are certainly spin off economic benefits concentrated in a given area by a major event like the superbowl, but I am unaware of any reputable study that proves hosting the superbowl makes significant money for anyone but the organizers and the NFL (If you are, please link one).

    Like the World cup, host cities end up paying for the cleanup, policing, capital investments etc long after the circus has left town. Economic hangovers are no mirage, unlike the benefits often touted as a reason to build magical new facilities with OPM.

    Michael, it troubles me that a fine man like Joe Robbie has had his name removed from the stadium he built too. Shame, thy name is Dolphins…

  5. Economist Phil Porter has actually done several studies of Super Bowl economic impact, and found that cities like Miami tend to get pretty much zero benefit, because football fans just displace other tourists who would normally be in town then anyway. Indianapolis arguably gets some benefit from being able to fill its hotel rooms in February; Miami really doesn’t need the help.

  6. I would be very interested to see if those studies tracked hotel room rates, rental car pricing, restaurant receipts, etc.

    I am unsurprised that government income is zero or even below zero for Super Bowl cities. I would be very surprised if net economic activity for the businesses and citizens that support said government is anything less than a positive in the millions (perhaps even tens of millions) of dollars for those same cities.

  7. It’s highly doubtful that the superbowl’s net economic benefit is even $10 million, but lets say it is, so all a city needs is to host the SB five times a year for the next 30 years to not lose their asses on the project.

    What a deal.

  8. Ben, prepare to have your mind blown: Philip Porter’s study looked at taxable sales in several warm-weather Super Bowl cities, and there was zero evidence of any uptick, including in hotel rentals.

    His explanation was as I indicated above: Super Bowl visitors end up displacing regular tourists – and in fact often spend *less* than regular tourists because they’re required to book hotels for the entire week but often don’t arrive until a couple of days before the game.

    I have the study buried on my hard drive somewhere, but there’s a decent summary here:

  9. Neil,

    In the article you cited Porter’s study tracked none of the things I asked about. He lust looked at raw sales tax numbers.

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