Stephen Ross makes record donation to Michigan


Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is really, really rich.  But he’s not a miser.

Most recently, Ross has made the biggest donation ever to the University of Michigan.  The gift, trumpeted via press release by the football team he owns, amounts to $200 million.

In all, Ross has given $313 million to Michigan.

Earlier this year, Ross announced that at least half of his $4.4 billion net worth eventually will go to charity.

Though some may disagree with public proclamations of charitable giving, doing it publicly is better than not doing it at all.  And while it’s easy to say Ross can afford to give away that much money because he has so much more, it’s likely not easy to part with gigantic chunks of cash, no matter how much cash a person has.  (It’s a problem we all would love to have.)

Making the gestures even more selfless for Ross is the reality that his willingness to give away so much money will make it no easier to obtain partial taxpayer funding for proposed upgrades to the football stadium he owns.  While Ross likely hopes that those who would oppose a public contribution will see him as a benevolent billionaire who deserves outside funding, the more likely reaction will be, “If you can afford to give it away, you can afford to pay for your own stadium upgrades.”

There’s really no good response to that, and it will be impossible to reverse the impression that taxpayers and politicians aren’t simply subsidizing a billionaire — they’re subsidizing a billionaire’s charitable giving.

39 responses to “Stephen Ross makes record donation to Michigan

  1. It’s not going to stop Michigan State from owning our little sister again like we have for 4 out of the last 5 seasons.
    Go Green!

  2. I don’t get why people disagree with public proclamations of charitable giving. Regardless of the giver’s motives (and how many rich people really care if the public likes them?) it’s more likely to spur others to be charitable than if it was a secret.

  3. Whether you like him or not, he has proven to be generous. The whole Stadium issue is a matter of principle. Why should he foot the Bill for the South Florida community when 99% of the other Owners don’t.

    As a lifelong Dolphins Fan not living in Florida, I could care less about Stadium, but Ross put his money where his mouth is and brought in FA’s to “try” and build a better Team. Will it work? Who knows… But it gives us Fans something to be excited about. That is all you ever want from an Owner.

  4. So let me get this straight. This guy donates over 300 million dollars to the University of Michigan…. But threw a hissy fit when the public stated they would not find the renovation of Sun Life Stadium?….. Makes sense

  5. Great example of what is wrong in America today.

    While I enjoy the idea that Mr. Ross is giving to causes he believes in, what about the idea that the funding the stadium that his team plays in and let the average citizen not having to pay taxes to support his stadium. Let the average person live their life without all this excessive government to control us.

    Go Blue (since Bo)

  6. And this guy won’t put up a little money for a tarp on top of the stadium? Us fans are boiling out there in 100 degree heat for 1pm games and paying top dollar for tickets! It’s all ego with these owners.

  7. Dolphins season ticket holder here. The main pitch used toward South Florida residents was the benefit to the community with the NFL probably staging 2 or 3 Super Bowls here every 10 years. From my point of view the benefit is not very long lasting. It puts millions of dollars into the community but far too much of that goes into the accounts of large businesses, many of which aren’t based here. As a fan and resident, the only Super Bowl I care about is the one my team plays in.

    Ross doesn’t live in Florida and you can feel the difference an absentee owner makes. Altho he’s a very smart man, he’s not a very good owner and doesn’t seem to have a feel for what it takes to put together a winning franchise.

    He came across at completely petulant when the legislature refused to put his request for tax money to a public referendum. He’s gone so far as to create a PAC to go after the politicians that didn’t support him. Childish. I also think he missed the part that when they counted the 35000 or so early voting ballots {that didn’t count because the referendum was never official} his request was getting its ass kicked.

    On the plus side, something most Dolphins fans and almost no NFL fans outside the area see, is that he’s funded a local volunteer organization called Miami Dolphins Special Teams that has put in over 150,000 man hours since its inception a few years ago. I give him major credit for that.

    In the end, I would be surprised if he still owns the team a year from now.

  8. The man can do with his money as he wishes – but yeah, it baffles me why he can donate $313 m total to a University he’s very fond of, yet balk at upgrades that cost $350 m.

    Ross here’s an idea: Buy the Stadium.
    Do the upgrades, get the tax write off and then rent the stadium out for the events Dade and Broward used it for before…

    Jerry Jones can be laughable sometimes but he built a beast of a stadium using mostly his money ($685 mil of $1.15 Bil) and is proud of it (and should be).

    Invest in the fans permanently with structural upgrades, not with temporary fixes with stadium ticket buy outs to prevent TV blackouts.

  9. It’s really simple…donations to universities are deductable for his personal income tax. Uncle sam is paying part of that. Any money paid toward a stadium doesnt have the same bang for his buck. I’d bet the dolphins have a accounting loss every year. No further deduction if u already have a loss.

  10. No reason he should have to pay for upgrades when all his cohorts are getting tens of millions from the tax payers why not him.
    Fact is, the cities see all the tax revenue, sales of products, parking, the whole nine yards as it were and are willing to put up the money, not all of it but a lot.

  11. While I certainly applaud Mr. Ross’s efforts to put his money to good use I hope he will choose to do more then simply write checks to an already well endowed university.

  12. >>>Ross here’s an idea: Buy the Stadium.<<<

    He already owns the stadium. The Dolphins were the first NFL team to build their own stadium (via former owner Joe Robbie), not Jerry Jones. And Ross already has offered to pay 70 percent of the stadium upgrades out of his own pocket to host the Super Bowl. He just wants the public to put up the rest since the community will benefit from the Super Bowl — and he has guaranteed to repay THAT amount out of his pocket if the city doesn't get a Super Bowl.

  13. Well, if Ross funded his own stadium, he would charge his season ticket holders $5,000 per seat for PSL’s just for the privilege of buying their tickets (that’s what Giant fans paid at the “New” Met-Life Stadium).

    65,000 seats times $5,000–You do the math!

    The University of Michigan would get a bigger chunk of change under that scenario.

    That’s the NFL real world, boys. Step up–and bring your credit card.

  14. let me preface this by saying that, taken on its own, I have no problem with Stephen Ross donating a gazillion dollars to the University of Michigan.

    What I have a problem with is him writing a check for $200 million right after he asked the state of Florida for a handout of a comparable amount. I understand that all the other owners in the NFL are getting handouts to fund stadiums, and that’s part of how the NFL puts fans over a barrel. Part of what Ross presented to the citizens of South Florida was a notion that he couldn’t simply write a check that big, that his money was tied up in real estate, that it wasn’t liquid. “Ross said he can’t pay all the costs of renovating the stadium on his own,” from our own PFT in May of this year. Obviously, that was a lie.

    The scary thing is that, if Miami-Dade and the state of Florida dig in their heels and say NO to welfare for a multi-billionaire, the prospect of the Dolphins leaving town one day becomes much more palpable. Is it an empty threat? Who can say, but it is the racket the NFL runs.

    The irony is Joe Robbie Stadium- don’t give me the “Sun Life” junk- was built with 100% private funds. I’m not sure if there is another stadium in the league built privately, but I doubt it. If you want an interesting read, I dug up this 1987 article from the LA Times about the then new stadium:

    It’s really crazy when you see the cost of the state-of-the-art facility was a mere $100 million. How times have changed! I’m not sure for the better…

  15. Handsatlanta…

    You make some good points, however, not all of the millions of dollars that are injected into the local economy by events like the Super Bowl, go to big businesses I work for a small business, as do alot of people that I know, and when big events like the Super Bowl come to town they pretty much make our year, which a very good thing in this day of the struggling economy and struggling small business owners…

    Just sayin, while there are alot of big companies that make money, there are alot of smaller ones that rely on big events to help them stay in business and stay profitable, so they can provide stability to their loyal and hardworking employees…

    Somethin for people to think about…

  16. Miamatt,

    Do you realize how long ago it was that Robbie built the stadium and what the national & local economy was like back then…also the size of all the cities & counties around back then…

    It was a completely completely different time…

    There were no Heat, Marlins or Panthers…there was no hugely overhyped & over-glamorized South Beach yet…the suburbs were actually the suburbs, for the most part, not like it is now where it’s more populated in the “suburbs” than it is downtown & Miami was a city not an overpopulated county…

    Dude, Weston was still the Everglades…lol

    Just sayin…

  17. Buzzdixn,

    I sure do realize how long ago it was when Robbie built that stadium… though I’m not sure what other sports franchises, the “glamour” of south beach, or the population of the suburbs have to do with anything. Really, if you look at it, NFL owners are richer than ever, while the citizens who are supposed to fund these stadiums are poorer than ever. That’s what seems relevant to me.

    My larger point was simply that it is a joke for Ross to ask for a public-private partnership, and then months later write a check for a $200 million dollar donation. I’ll admit, I was on the fence on this issue, maybe even leaning in favor of public funding, but I’m sure off that fence and totally against it now. I don’t doubt local business get a boost from hosting the Super Bowl, but I also believe that point gets overstated. I don’t ask my neighbors to help pay for painting my house and manicuring my lawn because it will improve neighborhood property values, I do that myself.

    The NFL is about making money period, and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Dolphins stadium is improved, franchise value goes up, the value of the NFL as a whole goes up. Then, the pressure shifts to the next city in line for the NFL to strong-arm.

    And as far as the old Joe Robbie days go, as my last post ended, “Times sure have changed, and I’m not sure for the better…”

  18. “laxcoach37 says: Sep 4, 2013 10:47 AM
    The whole Stadium issue is a matter of principle. Why should he foot the Bill for the South Florida community when 99% of the other Owners don’t.”

    Look at it from the taxpayer’s point of view. Why should we taxpayers have to re-build a perfectly good workplace for a billionaire when we don’t build the workplaces for 99.99% of ALL other businesses?

    You know what corporations or small business owners do when they want to build a skyscraper or office in a city? They get a loan. They don’t threaten/bribe/ or cry poor to the taxpayers.

  19. OK, Lots of people love to hate the Patriots. Known, done, over. Patriots ownership built the stadium now in use before the 2001 season. It was supposed to be called CMGI field. Except that CMGI was a Dot Bomb that failed before the stadium opened. So, it became Gillette Stadium. Gillette was financed with minimal taxpayer money and minimal giveaways. The Patriots are one of the most successful sports franchises in the world. Jerry Jones built the monstrosity that enshrines Dallas Cowboys football with his own money. Whether it’s LA, Minneapolis, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago or anywhere else, these fat cats have proven that the most successful franchises are the ones that support themselves. The second raters are the ones that rely on taxpayer bonds, TIF’s and handouts to make the business model work. If people want a winning team, tell the billionaire owners to pony up the cash. Absent a profit incentive, those billionaires will only offer mediocrity and plan to make money on nine dollar beer, seven dollar popcorn and forty dollar parking. “Football… Schmootball, I just want the money.”

  20. If a super bowl is ever held in South Florida again it would not benefit all of south Florida. Ross made it plain that he would do whatever he had to do to reserve ALL super bowl functions to be held in Miami-Dade county, shutting out Broward county, Ft. Lauderdale and surrounding areas. He wants ALL hotel bookings to be in Miami-Dade, all restaurant business to be pointed to Miami-Dade restaurants, etc. So a super bowl will not benefit south florida, it would only benefit Miami. I live in Broward and I hope we never get another super bowl under those conditions.

  21. They already have the Ross School of Business at Michigan. Next they’ll add Ross’s name to the classes dedicated to watching tv — those are the ones their football and basketball players take.

  22. thesteelskirt says:
    Sep 4, 2013 10:57 AM
    He should donate it to the nfl so they can buy some better afc east teams. I’m tired of the pats getting 6 freebies a year!

    Would that be something like the Steelers having 4 games a year with the tomato cans known as bangles and browns?(then whine about how hard their schedule is) I guess its easy to show off those 6 trophies in your glass house!

  23. granadafan says:
    Sep 4, 2013 12:58 PM
    “laxcoach37 says: Sep 4, 2013 10:47 AM
    The whole Stadium issue is a matter of principle. Why should he foot the Bill for the South Florida community when 99% of the other Owners don’t.”

    Look at it from the taxpayer’s point of view. Why should we taxpayers have to re-build a perfectly good workplace for a billionaire when we don’t build the workplaces for 99.99% of ALL other businesses?

    You know what corporations or small business owners do when they want to build a skyscraper or office in a city? They get a loan. They don’t threaten/bribe/ or cry poor to the taxpayers.

    How bout this: as soon as all other business (and they get tax breaks believe me!) bring in events ,Super Bowls, BCS championships, that pump hundreds of millions into the local economy well give them money. The last BCS championship brought billions to an area that believe me needs it. Id rather see billionaires that know how to handle the money get it than it go to Egypt or Syria.

    Besides Florio’s lack of Sanchez-Smith, Hernandez, or Tebow stories in a 24 hour news cycle why is this still an issue?

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