Dolphins books don’t paint a pretty picture

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During the 2011 lockout, NFL teams consistently refused to open the their books.

Maybe, based on the Dolphins books, they should have.

The Dolphins have shared financial documents with Miami-Dade County as part of an effort to finagle public money for the renovations to Sun Life Stadium.  According to Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald, things aren’t going so well.

While the team is earning roughly $25 million in operating profits, debt payments and other expenses have resulted in years with little profit — and some years with losses.

The team has projected a $14 million loss by 2014, at which time overall cash losses are projected to approach $70 million.

“It’s payroll,” CEO Mike Dee said recently.  “We’ve been operating at a loss.  Those numbers speak for themselves.”

The goal of the disclosure is to justify the increase of local hotel taxes to help pay for the upgrades to Sun Life Stadium.  And the numbers back that up.  As long as we set aside for these purposes the net worth of owner Stephen Ross.

87 responses to “Dolphins books don’t paint a pretty picture

  1. For a team with supposed payroll problems, they went out and bought a lot of free agents.

  2. NFL owners should not, under any circumstances, be entitled to public bailout money to help their franchise out of a hole that the owner himself dug in the first place.

  3. “So to cure our fiancial woes, we pi$$ away $60 million on a WR who had a subpar year in 2012 and only knows how to run a 9…”

    mmmmmmmkay….

  4. If its really payroll then why did you just sign a new collective bargaining agreement last year that still leads to you losing money?

  5. Cities, counties and States all over give land, tax incentives etc… to bring in business’s with jobs, income etc…. Businesses move if they are not profitable in one location and can do better in another. Such is life. And as long as we have politicians and bureaucracy it will always be that way. The only way around it is to vote them ALL out, start fresh and hope the next crop aren’t crooks also.

  6. “The goal of the disclosure is to justify the increase of local hotel taxes to help pay for the upgrades to Sun Life Stadium”

    How is that justifiable at all? I doubt many people that visit hotels in Miami during the football season are there for the Dolphins..Sounds like just another way to tax people..

  7. What is it about sunny, southern teams and their operating expenses in some sports. When you look at the Dolphins (and previously, the Marlins) in Miami, the Chargers in San Diego, the Jaguars in Jacksonville, Tampa’s Bucs, and LA’s complete apathy towards the NFL, I’m kinda wondering if these are really apt markets for operating some of these franchises. I know the weather is awesome, but it kinda seems like the fan bases and money are wrong.

  8. maybe that because the front office exec’s account for 50 million in bonuses/payroll eacch year.

  9. I don’t buy it. Accountants can make the books anyway they want. The NFL is printing money, there’s no way a team is losing money, even if they suck on the field.

  10. Just another example of the NFL sticking it to the fans. It has gotten too expensive to go a game any way so who cares what the stadium looks like.

  11. Throwing 289 Million dollars at an organization that is losing money seems like a horrible idea

  12. if i were a voter, this would infuriate me even more. you want me to vote yes to a tax hike to help fund a team that operates at a loss and shares no revenue with me? why on earth would i vote for the tax increase? sounds like throwing good money after bad.

  13. But who actually owns the stadium? If its the Dolphins, and/or Ross, then should the team realistically expect taxes to pay for renovations? But if it is owned by a public (governmental) organization, why shouldn’t the people pay for the mods? One assumes that if it is the latter, that the income generated by the stadium for football, concerts, etc., would go back to the public coffers.

  14. Bullllllllllllschitzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……….. The Bills tried this in the early 90’s when they went to four SBs. It takes some creative accounting, but there’s no way the Phins are losing money. I don’t, and won’t believe it. The TV money is set. The salary cap is set. They’re guaranteed to win, like a casino.

  15. i dont hear my local walmart begging for money. why is it deemed ok for nfl teams to do it?

  16. Not surprised at their financial picture when you overpay for players…like $40 million for Ellerbe

  17. It’s easy to show an operating loss when you can split off parking and concessions into separate companies, as most NFL teams do. No NFL team will ever open the books of all the profit generators surrounding their team.

  18. Simply because the Dolphins operate at a Loss doesn’t mean that Stephen Ross does. I’m sure the Dolphins aren’t his sole business investment. It’s smart to open up your books if you are operating at a loss for public money justification. The Yankees never really brought in profit either but that did not stop the Steinbrenner’s from spending. Why? because the Yankees were not their only business investment. As a fan you would love an owner like that.

  19. I’m so sure those books are unadulterated. Are they certified under oath to be true? Doubt it.

  20. Wait till next off season when all these high profile free agent signings prove to be average at best.

  21. When you factor in depreciation / appreciation the investment is sound and making money. I am tired of owners claiming poverty after making a business decision to purchase a franchise and its assets. Mr Ross knew full well the condition of Sun Life stadium before purchasing the Miami Dolphins and I’m sure that its condition entered into the eventual sale price. Owners are hard nosed businessmen with everything except taxpayer funded corporate welfare. That they see no wrong in.

  22. Maryland now has a “rain tax”. Maybe Miami can impose a “wave tax” on its populace.

  23. Love me some expert posts. Guys sitting at a desk at their jobs. All experts and know exactly where the money is and how to correct the problems. Because Ross is such an idiot, he became a billionaire.

  24. soon as they pilfer the coffers of FLorida and taxes of citizens for a new stadium, their books will suddenly be back to a $25m operating profit. Oops musta been a coincidence!

  25. Did it ever occur to someone that when you are looking for public funding that its best to show your not making an absurd about of money.

    If the dolphins add all of their new payroll to their books but dont add their new ticket sales, it will obvioulsy look one sided.

  26. If its really payroll then why did you just sign a new collective bargaining agreement last year that still leads to you losing money?

    =======================
    Cowboys, Redskins, Patriots bail them out

  27. Ross can easily provide the team with a $70 million cash infusion and wipe out those losses moving forward. No need for taxpayers to foot the bill for any private business. Taxpayers ought to be outraged by the mere suggestion.

  28. Why is everyone bringing up the high spend on free agents? This isn’t baseball, there’s a salary cap and a salary minimum every team has to spend.

  29. Funny all the Steelers fan posting comments about a public funded renovation: FACTS:
    Originally, a sales tax increase was proposed to fund three projects: Heinz Field, PNC Park, and an expansion of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. After the rejection of this proposal in a referendum, the city developed Plan B.[15] Similarly controversial, the alternative proposal was labeled Scam B by opponents.[16] The Steelers’ pledge toward the new stadium was criticized for being too little, even after it was raised from $50 million to $76.5 million.[9][17] Other local government members criticized the $281 million of public money allocated for Plan B.[9][18] One member of the Allegheny Regional Asset District board called the use of tax dollars “corporate welfare”.[19] The plan, totaling $809 million, was approved by the Allegheny Regional Asset District board on July 9, 1998, with $233 million allotted for Heinz Field.[19][20] Shortly after Plan B was approved, the Steelers made a deal with Pittsburgh city officials to stay in the city until at least 2031.[16] The total cost of Heinz Field was $281 million

  30. You have heard of cooking the books when you want something. The Fins want Miami taxpayers to foot the bill. Hence the cry “We are losing money.”

  31. HEINZ FEILD EXPANSION:
    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last month that the team and local political leaders had negotiated the framework of a deal to help pay for the construction that involved a $1 increase in an existing surcharge on Steelers tickets and a new parking surcharge of $2 to $3 at lots around Heinz Field during home games.

    Money raised from the surcharges would support a bond issue, estimated at $20 million, to be floated by the SEA, the stadium owner. Under the plan, the Allegheny Regional Asset District would guarantee the bonds. The other $18 million to $19 million would come from the Steelers.

    WOW,,, A WHOLE 19MILLION FROM THE STEELERS….!

  32. So it is ok for the Steelers to do it?
    Browns?
    Cowboys?
    Bucs?
    jacksonville?
    Indy?
    Denver?
    San Fran?
    Bills?
    bengals?
    Falcons?
    Saints?
    Texans?

  33. @ Stillers35…I bet you weren’t calling him that when he was cradling 75yd td passes for the squealers?…At least now we will know if Tannehill is worthy of his high draft status

  34. Go back to the Davis case in 2001; what NFL teams release for public consumption and what is kept internally can differ widely.

  35. Imagine if any team in the NFL ran itself like a real business, instead of …… ‘let’s have the public pay for everything’ attitude. Making the public pay for a stadium is like charging a cover fee just to buy their product.

    I already have to pay a school tax yeat have never had children. Just another way to take money from the public WITHOUT our approval.

  36. No way they’re losing money. Its almost impossible with the revenue the teams receive from television alone. A team doesn’t need to sell-out every game to turn a profit. This is complete BS.

  37. Keep in mind there are no state taxes for Dolphins players so the state will not even get any return on this investment. Bad business all around. Signing all those free agents this year could really set them in the red for the foreseeable future.

  38. Now, open up the real set of books and show the real profits knocked down the past ten years. Losing money on an NFL franchise? Come on, man!

  39. “What is it about sunny, southern teams and their operating expenses in some sports”

    don’t you mean “what is it about places where there is so much to do that watching your team suck year after year just doesn’t cut it?”

  40. brassknuckles47 says:

    Imagine if any team in the NFL ran itself like a real business, instead of …… ‘let’s have the public pay for everything’ attitude. Making the public pay for a stadium is like charging a cover fee just to buy their product.

    I already have to pay a school tax yeat have never had children. Just another way to take money from the public WITHOUT our approval.
    —————————————
    I’m assuming you went to school yourself though? Imagine if people had the same asinine opinions as you and refused to fund your education when you were a child.

    Ross is offering (1) to repay the money over time (2) to make a lengthy commitment to the Miami area. The funding is coming from a hotel tax which won’t even affect residents. If Miami doesn’t want the Dolphins, there are other cities which would but Ross isn’t being a jerk about it.

    Unlike you!

  41. If you had a GM that drafted well, you would have a talented team & spend wisely. Instead you have a half empty stadium & overpay for free agents that can’t get you to the playoffs. It’s not rocket science.

  42. That’s poor reporting and not opening the books. What’s the “other” that you failed to mention? If we’re going to talk about opening the books, then give us everything!

  43. its like obama says, its shared suffereing, its absolutely unreasonable to hold the individuals accountable for the problems they are currently facing, even though those individuals were directly involved in the creation of the problem, Its no different than the people bailing out the banks, or paying for the health care of the baby momma who cant keep her legs shut for more 5 mins……..

  44. No chance these are the real numbers. Ross doesn’t make billions investing in losing propositions. I’m sure he had his team of accountants go over everything before he paid Huzenga a kings ransom for the team. Theres a reason for it, we just aren’t going to see it.

  45. @jpack1974

    Just because Ross is an owner and a billionaire doesnt make him a smart football guy. He has continued to make that team a perennial nobody and along with Ireland, have totally misled the fans with these free agent signings that havent panned out. You guys gave Dansby so much money and I never hear about him as one of the elite guys in the league like matthews, willis, etc….

  46. Running at a small loss (it’s all relative) while your investment appreciates is a sound business choice. The owners don’t need to turn yearly profits, that’s what their other business’ are for.

  47. Complete and utter accounting nonsense. A good accountant, and I am sure the Dolphins have one, can make any company look like it is losing money.

    Besides, even if the “losses” were legit, the constantly escalating value of the franchise, of all NFL franchises, would more than offset them.

  48. guvsta says:
    Apr 12, 2013 3:17 PM
    brassknuckles47 says:

    Imagine if any team in the NFL ran itself like a real business, instead of …… ‘let’s have the public pay for everything’ attitude. Making the public pay for a stadium is like charging a cover fee just to buy their product.

    I already have to pay a school tax yeat have never had children. Just another way to take money from the public WITHOUT our approval.
    —————————————
    I’m assuming you went to school yourself though? Imagine if people had the same asinine opinions as you and refused to fund your education when you were a child.
    —————

    I’m assuming he had parents. Maybe they should have paid for his education.

  49. The Texans down here in Houston have a cushy deal..city/county builds a stadium…has a surtax on hotel rooms and taxis to pay for it and Bob McNair get to use it like his own and take credit for everything….cushy!!!

  50. Ahh yes when free candy is being handed out then everyone acts poor…. what a joke, wouldn’t open the books to negotiate with players but no problem do that when begging for cash for stadiums….

  51. eatitfanboy says:
    Apr 12, 2013 3:39 PM
    guvsta says:
    Apr 12, 2013 3:17 PM
    brassknuckles47 says:

    Imagine if any team in the NFL ran itself like a real business, instead of …… ‘let’s have the public pay for everything’ attitude. Making the public pay for a stadium is like charging a cover fee just to buy their product.

    I already have to pay a school tax yeat have never had children. Just another way to take money from the public WITHOUT our approval.
    —————————————
    I’m assuming you went to school yourself though? Imagine if people had the same asinine opinions as you and refused to fund your education when you were a child.
    —————

    I’m assuming he had parents. Maybe they should have paid for his education.
    ——————————
    That’s falling back on the argument that you should only pay for things which directly affect you.

    So, if I don’t care about national defence I should be able to opt out of paying taxes towards this?

    If you’re lucky enough to have received an education, regardless if your parents made a small (and it certainly wouldn’t cover the whole amount) contribution towards it , I think you have a civic duty to contribute to the education of others.

  52. guvsta says:
    Apr 12, 2013 4:23 PM

    I’m assuming he had parents. Maybe they should have paid for his education.
    ——————————
    That’s falling back on the argument that you should only pay for things which directly affect you.

    So, if I don’t care about national defence I should be able to opt out of paying taxes towards this?

    If you’re lucky enough to have received an education, regardless if your parents made a small (and it certainly wouldn’t cover the whole amount) contribution towards it , I think you have a civic duty to contribute to the education of others.
    ————————-

    National defense affects me therefore I should help pay for it. I would prefer not to be paying for the national defense of half the other countries in the world, but that’s another argument.

    I’m glad you think I have a civic duty to pay to educate other people’s kids. Especially the 40% who don’t pay a single penny for their own.

  53. Not sure why bring up Pitt’s funding when talking about Miami funding. Pitt funding amounts to the Steelers increasing prices to pay for the debt service but using the city’s credit for a cheaper rate. It really only lightly screws everyone else as the bond holders wouldn’t pay federal tax on the income from the bonds.

    In Miami case the funding would increase the cost of visiting the city which will lead to less tourism, which will hurt the service economy of the town. If the tax was changed to a tax on Dolphin tickets and parking, then its much more acceptable from of public financing.

    As for the Dolphin’s numbers they are most likely put together in a fashion to paint a bad picture as that sells the story the Dolphins want currently. If they were a publicly traded company the books would probably look totally different. Also who knows how much in management fees the Dolphins pay Ross.

  54. “As long as we set aside for these purposes the net worth of owner Stephen Ross.”

    Spoken like a true union sympathizer. What has Ross’ personal net worth got to do with the price of tea in China? The Miami Dolphins are one of his businesses, and the organization has to make or lose money on its own. It probably killed Florio for the Dolphins official to speak the truth when he said that the financial difficulties the team has in consistently generating a profit (and avoiding losses) are due to PAYROLL. You can’t overpay the hell out of a bunch of employees who otherwise would probably be sacking groceries by tens of millions of dollars a year and not have cash flow problems. Pro players are GROSSLY overpaid for what they do, and the only reason the house of cards the league is built on hasn’t fallen already is because the sport has a fan base that hasn’t yet gotten too sick of being charged ridiculously high prices to see their product.

  55. This is billionaire welfare plain and simple. Why should Ross risk dropping a spot on Forbes list to improve HIS product when you can tax the people to do it? I tire of these “companies that bring jobs blah blah blah” people that don’t understand economics. Intel opening a semiconductor plant brings well paying jobs. NFL teams bring minimum wage concession, parking, and landscaping jobs. You or I aren’t gonna land in the front office. “but they fill the hotels and restaurants” you blather. Right. With low paid maids, servers, cooks, and busboys so that Paris Hilton can jet around and flash her clam. Florida is mainly home to retirees and illegals, not exactly a solid fan base but a perfect place for Ross to play king at the subjects expense.

  56. This is how Art Modell started, mismanaged the Browns for years. Then complained he could not get any help from his city, while he already had made a deal to grab money and stab fans in the back. Sounds kind of familiar.

  57. “It’s payroll,” CEO Mike Dee said recently. “We’ve been operating at a loss. Those numbers speak for themselves.”

    Without reviewing the numbers, this statement does not pass the sniff test. The Packers are publicly held, and are dealing with roughly equivalent payroll issues because of the salary cap. But the Packers are consistently profitable. So there has to me more too it than just payroll.

  58. The Fins are doing what many others have done, including the Patriots, Ravens and Steelers. Stephen Ross paid a lot for team, and unfortunately bought the team at the wrong time, the team’s attendance has been affected by the bad local economy. Other owners would have been stubborn and cruel and they would have never done anything about; but Mr Ross helped the community and lowered tix prices and ran multiple ads to attract the low income fans, and even purchased tixs himself to avoid any blackouts. Call me an idiot, or ignorant, but he has put the fans first the past 3-4 years and spent money in FAs to improve a franchise that Mr. Wayne Huizenga and Parcells left in ruin.

    It’s time the city/ county to return the favor. Improve the facility and make more attracted for other events. Besides, it won’t be 100% financed by public money; the Fins have committed 70% + any overage.

  59. jm91rs says: Apr 12, 2013 1:54 PM

    I don’t buy it. Accountants can make the books anyway they want. The NFL is printing money, there’s no way a team is losing money, even if they suck on the field
    ——————————————
    Exactly. I’m an accountant, and there are any number of ways to present an organization’s finances. Entertainment operations (movie studios, TV networks, recording companies, sports teams) in particular are notorious for “not making a profit”.

    If you want to show a loss (for the tax man or when seeking a bailout), a loss can be shown. If you want to show a profit (for potential investors, the bank, the league, etc.), a profit can be shown. It’s largely a matter of interpretation, how you recognize expenses, how you recognize revenues, how legal you want to be, and such. If you want to make the financial statements jump off the page and sing, “Ride of the Valkyries”, heck, we can make that happen, too. If you want all these things at the same time, no problem, it can be done.

    We have the technology, we have the ability, we have the chutzpah–if you have the checkbook.

    Note–I don’t do any of this manipulative stuff myself. The same thing that caused me to not go to law school caused me to leave the corporate world–I have a conscience.

  60. It’s because the Dolphins have been awful for 20 years. The fans in Florida don’t deserve pro sports.

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