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Dolphins future in Miami?

The Miami Dolphins saw their bid for public assistance in renovating the 26 year old Sun Life Stadium die on Friday night. Could the failure of the House of Representatives to vote on the funding request ultimately lead to the Dolphins leaving Miami?


It seems like a ridiculous idea. The Dolphins are Miami and Miami is the Dolphins. The team with five Super Bowl appearances, two championships, and the only undefeated season in NFL history have a tradition with South Florida, and moving somewhere does not seem possible. But, with the actions of the Florida House of Representatives at the end of last week, the idea has started to gain some traction.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has repeatedly stated that he has no plans to move the team. The Dolphins, under Ross, will likely stay in Miami. However, there's nothing keeping Ross as the owner of the team at this point. Ross does not plan to pass the team to his heirs, meaning he plans to sell it at some point in the near future. Whomever buys the team, with no renovation plan in place for Sun Life Stadium, will be free to move the team to anywhere else he wants.

The plan Ross had negotiated with Miami-Dade County would have locked the Dolphins into a 30-year contract to stay in the city. Now, there's nothing there.

"The Dolphins are one of the only franchises in the NFL that don't have a long-term lease with their community," Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said on Sunday. "At some point somebody's going to buy the franchise from Steve, and clearly the stadium is the first thing they would need to address."

Dee also stressed that there are no plans for any renovations to be done to the stadium without some sort of funding assistance from the state and county. "We cannot do this without a public-private partnership," Dee said.

Already, people are pointing at Los Angeles as a possibly future home for the Dolphins. The city has spent the last few years with multiple proposals for new stadiums, and, eventually, the league will put a team back into the LA market. With no upgrades to Sun Life Stadium in the works now, a new owner would have to at least consider a package from Los Angeles.

Currently, Ross is determined to putting a winning football team back on the field at Sun Life Stadium. He's not talking relocation, and he probably won't. Ross was born in Detroit, but grew up in Miami, graduating from Miami Beach Senior High School. He initially started his college work at the University of Florida before transferring to Michigan. He is a Dolphins fan who now owns his favorite team. He's not going to want to move that team from Miami.

But, unless something changes within the state Legislature, things will change whenever the ownership of the Dolphins changes.

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