There are persistent rumblings that, if the vote regarding public contributions to the renovation of Sun Life Stadium fails on May 14, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will sell the team. Some even think that, if the vote wins, Ross will sell.
Ross tells Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald that’s untrue, on both counts.
“I intend on owning the Dolphins a lot longer than that,” Ross said regarding a provision that requires him to pay a $20 million penalty if he sells within five years after the stadium deal is done. “What was asked is that they don’t want to see me benefit and then sell the team and make all types of money. First of all, just in selling the team, you know me well enough to know what I want to do. I mean, everybody at first criticized when I first bought the team all the different things I wanted to do. First, I want to do one thing: I want to win. I want to be a first-class organization and I want to enhance the community and they all go together.”
“If I die, my family will have to sell it and then that’s where I worry about who’s going to be the buyer when you don’t have a facility to play in, and you have declining attendance and you’re losing money,” Ross said. “That’s when you have to worry about the Dolphins being able to stay in Miami. OK? I’m not threatening I’m going to move them. But I can’t rule from the grave.”
The problem is that, without a consistent winner or a stadium with bells and whistles, not enough people in Miami come to games. That dynamic apparently supports the somewhat remarkable notion that the Dolphins are somehow in the red.
“As we disclosed in our financials, we don’t make a lot of money,” Ross said. “In fact, we lose a lot of money. How do you turn that around? By winning football games. And how do you fill your seats? By winning football games.”
A losing team likely won’t persuade customers to show up, even to a renovated venue. An upgraded stadium may help for a year or two, but not over the long haul.
And that’s the biggest problem in today’s NFL. While the system is configured to allow any team to be competitive, not every team has been able to pull it off in very many years. Apart from whether the Dolphins win the stadium vote, the Dolphins won’t be selling out games on a regular basis unless and until they get back to where they once were as an on-field power.