The Florida Legislature failed to give the people of Miami-Dade County the ability to vote on partial public funding for upgrades to Sun Life Stadium. And that could lead to a future without the Dolphins in South Florida.
In April, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said that owner Stephen Ross would not renovate the stadium without a public-private partnership. Ross has reiterated that there will be no renovation in the two days since House Speaker Will Weatherford failed to move the bill forward, and Dee told CBS4 in Miami that it would be “difficult” to do the renovations on a more limited basis.
Dee also said that the lack of a renovation could result in a relocation.
“I wouldn’t want to prognosticate what the future holds, but it’s clearly bleak,” Dee said. While Dee reiterated that Ross won’t move the team, Dee pointed out that the next owner could move the team, possibly to Los Angeles.
Ross previously has said that the team won’t be sold in his lifetime, but Dee didn’t rule out a sale during Ross’s lifetime.
So is Ross looking to sell the team? “I don’t think so today,” Dee said. “It’s not my sense in talking to him.”
If/when the Dolphins leave, the failure of Weatherford to move on a bill that would have given the voters the chance to approve (or kill) the stadium renovation project as the first domino that fell.
Dee said that Weatherford told the Dolphins on at least four occasions that the bill would make it to the House floor for a full vote. “Something happened late in the process that caused him to change his mind,” Dee said of Weatherford. “We suspect that it’s a pure political decision, that he’s choosing politics over the right for the voters of Miami-Dade County to decide this issue, and that’s a shame.”
Dee tiptoed around the specific political reason, mentioning only Weatherford’s own personal ambitions. On Saturday, we explained that stadium supporters believe Weatherford aspires to hold statewide office, and that former Eagles owner Norman Braman may have promised support in exchange for killing the bill.
Along the way, Weatherford has cultivated some motivated enemies. “This abuse of power will follow his career for a long time,” Dee said.
The sad reality is that it also could follow the Dolphins right out of Miami, putting them in the city where they capped their 17-0 season with a win in Super Bowl VII.