This morning, we took a look at Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross' announcement that he had joined the Giving Pledge, a group of 114 billionaires committed to donating at least half their wealth to charity. While the gesture is amazing, and in no way am I trying to lessen it, it does lead to the question - what does it mean for the Dolphins?
Ross is worth an estimated $4.4 billion. The Dolphins are estimated at $1.01 billion, with Ross having paid $1.1 billion for the team. Ross is committed to donating $2.2 billion to charity. He has said he does not plan to have his family inherit the team. Even if it was clear prior to yesterday's announcement, Ross has made the sale of the Dolphins an inevitability.
And, with this past weekend's failure of the House of Representatives to vote on the bill that could have led to a private-public partnership in renovating Sun Life Stadium, the specter of the Dolphins leaving Miami is already starting to hang over the club. Ross has stated he will absolutely not move the team.
But a new owner will clearly have that option.
Ross is 73. He's not going to hold on to the team forever. How much longer is unknown. He wants to build a winner, and have that be his legacy in the NFL.
Whenever Ross does sell the team, the new owner is going to immediately look at Sun Life Stadium and have to make a decision. The stadium needs an upgrade if it is going to attract Super Bowls. It's fine for the Dolphins for the next decade. It cannot compete against the brand new stadiums being built all over the country.
A new owner has to look at Sun Life and decide if it can be remodeled. Will it have to be rebuilt? Will the state and the county get on board then, like the state did not this time? Is there a site somewhere else around Miami-Dade County (or Broward County) that makes more sense for the team?
Or, does moving out of Miami, or out of Florida, make the best business decision?
Because that's on which the decision will ultimately be based. Business. Nothing will be done without at least partial public funding. The NFL cannot afford to have a team lose out on public funding, then turn around and pay for it privately. It sets a precedent the league cannot afford. Which means, taxpayer money is going to have to be involved.
And, if Miami or Florida are unable to come up with the money, the Dolphins could move. A new owner likely will not have the tie to Miami Ross has, having gone to high school in the city. A move is absolutely going to be on the table.
Ross' pledge to give half his wealth to charity is amazing. He should absolutely be commended for making the pledge and for trying to make the world a better place. But, it could also mean a turbulent time for the Miami Dolphins and for Dolphins fans.
Hopefully, things with the stadium will be settled before Ross sells the team.