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Dolphins owner Stephen Ross in his own words

Yesterday, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross sat down with the media and discussed the state of the team, Sun Life Stadium, Jeff Ireland, and if the Dolphins and Miami Heat are competing for the same money. Here's the team's owner, in his own words:


(Opening Statement) - "I'm really excited being here today. I know it's been a while since I've been down here and seen you. It might surprise you all, but I look forward to it. Unfortunately I've been out of South Florida (with) business taking a lot of my time, but I'm really excited about this season, the things we've done and see how they work. A lot of things, as you all know and I'm sure the questions will come of the things we are doing, what we've done, what we haven't done. But I'm excited about today as well because, you know our soccer tournament, the matchup tonight is pretty exciting, I think it's something We promised South Florida that we would be bringing events and trying to enhance the experience of living in South Florida and bringing tourists to South Florida. It's really kind of a marquee matchup tonight, but I think my most important thing of what I care about is really about winning football games. I think you all know, I was accused before that I only cared about entertainment. I think you know me now, it's about really winning football, and that's what it's all about. So in that spirit, I'm open to any questions you might have."

I have a lot of faith, and I think people are seeing the job he’s doing from outside. I hear so many owners and other coaches (say), ‘You’ve made a great selection.’ -Stephen Ross on Joe Philbin

(On how he would define a successful team this season)- "We all know the games are played in September, October, November and December, and that defines it. I think when you make moves, you want it to really create, bring back the winning tradition to Florida. You can't make moves and not want to and hope to, you know, make the playoffs and see where you go from there. You want to see progress, and that's the most important thing. It's really seeing progress as this team develops because I'm looking to bring a team to South Florida to win consistently, and that's the most important thing."

(On the stadium renovations defeat in the Florida legislation and how long the stadium can go without renovations) -"I guess to start with, was I disappointed? I was very disappointed that we lost (the right for the voters to decide on the stadium). The fans and the community deserved to have a right to vote, and I think that was taken away from them. I think we then would have been able to really present the reasons why it was so beneficial to South Florida and why I think we would have won that vote if the fans had the opportunity to do so. I'm committed to really seeing South Florida continue to grow, become the city that has the capability of becoming and being that world class city because I don't think there is any city right now more exciting, has more potential to become one of the great cities of the world than Miami. I want to be a part of that, we've been a part of that over the last, I guess, 40 years since I started my company down here in South Florida and grown it to become one of the largest real estate development companies in South Florida. So when you are doing that and being involved in the community, you want to continue to see the city grow, so that was disappointing. Have I given up? The answer is no. I think it's important to South Florida, the importance of the football team, the importance of bringing events, marquee events to Miami, is paramount really to part of owning a football team. As I said before, I'm a steward of the team for the period of time that I own it, and it's incumbent upon me to really do those things on behalf of the community, and I'll continue to do that. I think at the end of the day, I didn't grow a company. Everything was laid out. You have to be tenacious, you've got to believe in what you believe in and you've got to pursue it. So as I have indicated in the past, especially after we lost, we'll be back because I think it has to happen. It's the right thing, and you are really doing something you believe in and it's right for the community, then it will eventually happen. And I'm committed to making sure it happens."

(On if he needs approval from the Florida legislature for stadium renovations or if there are other options available) - "We are exploring everything. Certainly Tallahassee has so many rights. You can question why they have so many rights, but they do. But I think we are exploring everything."

(On if 2014 has been ruled out in terms of going back to Tallahassee) - "We are studying it to see if it is a possibility. I want to get it done as soon as possible. There are a lot of reasons and ideas that we are rolling over and how we might really present it to get something done."

(On if it will possibly alienate fans getting so politically involved) - "I've been involved here in South Florida, and I have a reason to be in South Florida. I really want to see South Florida grow. I really believe in Governor Scott's platform of creating jobs. Jobs (are) probably what would allow this economy to really grow. I've been part of it. I'm just being a bit more vocal."

(On if the governor's approval rating could possibly alienate fans if the rating were to fall) - "I think people want jobs, and I think that's the paramount of any community is having jobs, growing and doing the right things. You can't really put your finger on it and test the waters of the wind and where it is blowing. If you are doing the right thing, I think you will do fine ultimately when you see and compare what he's doing compared to what the other candidates might be and what his platforms are to bring jobs and see what this state really reach its potential."

(On if he deems the money spent in free agency would be well spent if the team doesn't make the playoffs) - "Like I said before, we certainly want to make the playoffs. That was all done with that in mind. But I want to see growth in the team and building the foundation for this season and the future seasons as well. I don't want to be a one-shot wonder, and I think the fans don't. I think you really want to see you are committed to winning, committed to excellence and you want to be best in class. We are doing all of those things. The many things we are doing you don't see about. This year alone in technology, I said initially, I want this organization to be the best in class in the NFL. We are doing things in technology, we are leading the way in the NFL. Our stadium this year is the most advanced technology stadium probably in the country. We are wired that you will be able to make phone calls this year. You will be able to download. You will be able to use social networking. We have the best Internet system that will work in this stadium in the United States. We are looking to bring all of these things in to make this the best organization possible and lead the way of doing, using it as the blueprint of what other people want to follow."

(On if he is committed to Jeff Ireland long-term) - "I'm committed. I think he's doing a great job and I'm committed to Jeff Ireland."

(On how confident he the great accomplishments he witnessed the Dolphins achieve at the Orange Bowl is close to returning) - "I think we are in the right direction, and that's the most important things. I think you can see it. I think the fans are starting to feel it. You saw what happened last week with over 22,000 who showed up for the night scrimmage. You can see the makings of the team. You can see that this coach is different. This organization is committed. The moves we made in the offseason I think really show that. We didn't really try and sign players that had reached their potential and were just a name. We had a plan, and they are following a plan to really recreate that winning tradition."

(On the shelf-life remaining in Sun Life Stadium) - "I agree. First of all I think the location is a great location for South Florida. I want to see a team be playing in that stadium, and I think it has the makings with a renovation. It certainly will cost a lot more to build a brand new stadium, so at some point you can put the Band-Aids together, keep something going. I think, knowing the importance of marquee events and the Miami Dolphins to South Florida, and everywhere in the country there has been some type of public support. I'm prepared to give more support as an owner than any other place there has been. So I mean starting with that commitment, the deal that we offered had the Miami Dolphins paying for more of the renovations and the improvements to the stadium than any other franchise had done. I think I'm committed to that. I think the community wants to really see what really occurred. It's really funny, I don't think everyone really even knows. It's funny we know because we are so closely in-tune to it, and a lot of the public doesn't understand what really happened and what occurred."

(On if he is concerned about the lack of season ticket sales despite the offseason moves the team made) - "Miami really has a reputation that it's a tough sports town. You've got to win. You can do all of those things, but they are looking to see if they are winning. You've got to start first. First, we'll be winning (and) I know we will get the proper response from there."

(On how much attention and money the Miami Heat's recent success has taken away from the Dolphins) - "They've been successful, and I applaud them for that. That doesn't mean that there (isn't) enough out there for both of us if we are winning."

(On if the Miami market has changed where it can adapt to having two successful sports franchises) - "There's a limited amount of entertainment dollars. Miami is a town that wants winners. There is a lot of other entertainment, so people are spending those dollars on other forms of entertainment. But if the team is winning, they are going to support that team. We've seen that in the past, and I think that is what it will be in the future."

(On his message to a frustrated fan-base) - "I mean look and see what we are doing in the offseason, what we've brought in here. I think in pro football it all starts in you need to have a great quarterback. We certainly believe and hope that we've selected the quarterback. He understands his position, his role. He's doing everything he can. I love the guy. I think he's the right person to lead the way. I think you have to make the rest of the moves as well. You have to have a plan, you have to be consistent. You have to follow a plan. I think that is what we are doing. We said that last year, and you can see the changes. I think just what the football writers around the country, not just here in Miami. You are probably the most critical, here in Miami, but other places, where you read the press, how much they really see what the Dolphins are doing, and I think I like the position we are in."

(On concern he spent too much money this offseason on players) - "I've never heard a writer say, ‘Hey, this guy is cheap. He's trying to save money. Can you spend too much money?' (laughs). First of all, we salary caps and a lot of things where you have to live within the rules. You can't buy yourself a franchise. You've got to be smart, and I've always said that. Money doesn't solve problems. It's really brains solve problems and having the right people making the right decisions and spending the money we are allowed to spend and not really leveraging it for the future, giving it away. We have to be there consistently, and that's what we've done. You've seen too many franchises spend tons of money on one or two players probably past their prime, didn't really have a real plan. I think that's not the type of formula I'm looking to follow."

(On openness of the organization to the media and if the coaching staff is exempt) - "I think you've seen a lot more transparency from the football operations. This whole organization really believes in transparency. I think it maybe takes a little longer, but I think you can see it happening. They (football operations) are also moving in that direction."

(On Mike Pouncey wearing the ‘Free Hernandez' hat and how the team handled it) - "Obviously, I don't condone it. At the same time, I think the way the team handled it was a matter of the coach and Mike Pouncey, and I have total faith in the coach and how they handled the situation. It was done, and certainly you know the way we care about how our people act in the community, how they behave and what they mean to the Miami Dolphins. I think that is really engendered in all of the players that are told that from day one. I think you've seen that with this coach. That's really important to me, the character and where we are really going as an organization with the right kind of people."

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(On transparency with Philbin not addressing if he had spoken with Pouncey about the hat) - "I'm in favor of how Joe Philbin is handling things. I really don't want to get in between that. I have total faith in Joe Philbin, how he handles things, him as a person, what he expects from people, and I'm not going to second-guess Joe Philbin."

(On Will Weatherford and state legislative regarding stadium funding) - "I think with what took place with (Will) Weatherford is all said and done. I want to move forward and not start a controversy between this because that's not going to serve anybody any purpose. I know what was done, it's been reported. I'd really rather not make an issue out of that."

(On what role he played in the offseason acquisitions) - "You question (the football staff). I don't make the decision. They make the decisions, but you question why they are making their decisions and you want to know they are well-founded, that they've done their homework and all of that. I know what they are doing, but at the same time they make the ultimate decisions in that."

(On what he will look for in a new CEO) - "A leader. I've started a lot of companies. Every company we've had has probably been the best in class, and that's what I'm looking for in a leader here, to take us to the level where we can become the best in class to the organization in every aspect of it. Right now we have a search going on, and we hope to have it narrowed down to four candidates in the next week or so. Then sometime by the end of August, beginning of September have picked somebody from (those) candidate."

(On if he wants someone with a football background for the next CEO) - "I just want to get the best candidate, and if it's football that's great. I think we have to have somebody with some type of relationship to sports, to bring someone in from the outside who hasn't dealt with sports. It took me a while to learn. It's a different business, I've got to tell you. But I think someone to run an organization who's been in sports is paramount. You've got to be a real leader."

(On if there are any in-house candidates) - "We have a great organization in-house. We've talked to people, but we have a search going on to try to find the best candidate."

(On if he wants the new CEO to have input on the football operations side) - "The football operation reports to me."

(On Joe Philbin and if he has noticed any difference in him during his second-year as a coach) - "Joe Philbin was never a head coach before, and I think getting comfortable being a head coach takes a little bit of time. I think you learn a lot on the job and all of that. I think he still has a great football mind, and I think you learn a lot every year. Probably every year you will probably see a different side of Joe Philbin. I think he is the real thing. I have a lot of faith, and I think people are seeing the job he's doing from outside. I hear so many owners and other coaches (say), ‘You've made a great selection.' "

(On what he likes best of Joe Philbin) - "I like what he stands for. I like his plan. He's a stickler for details, as you said, and he also expects a lot from his players as well. And he also commands respect. You can expect, unless you are commanding respect, you aren't going to succeed."

It’s really seeing progress as this team develops because I’m looking to bring a team to South Florida to win consistently, and that’s the most important thing. -Stephen Ross

(On if sports business has been surprising in the sense of how long it takes to win) - "I mean, sure I would have liked to won. As I've told you before, I've learned a lot. It's not the easiest business from that standpoint because you know talent but it doesn't mean you can attract the talent. I know, as an organization, we get the best people because they want to work for our organization. People might want to come to South Florida. We might have a great organization. The rules don't allow us, they aren't free to pick where they are going. Once you build an organization where people really want to play, you build it for the right reasons. In looking for the long-term, I think we'll attract the best players. We'll be the best in class and organization because we are looking at every aspect of it. Just not on the field, but looking to enhance the fan experience, to doing everything to be the best in class in every aspect."

(On if he would consider other municipalities for a new stadium within South Florida if stadium legislation isn't passed) - "I mean I haven't given up on the fact. As I've said before, I think (the current location of Sun Life Stadium) is the best location for South Florida, and we've got to make it work."

(On if he would stop subsidizing season tickets to prevent a blackout if sales lag into next season) - "I believe I'm not going to have to address that question. In the past, we've supported the fans and shown it in spite of the blackout rule. I would hope that we are filling up the stadium, and I think winning will do it. And if I focus on that, I won't have to worry about those other questions."

(On, with recent trend in billionaires purchasing media outlets, if he would be interested in buying a newspaper company) - "Do I want to buy, no? You can't imagine (laughs). I was at a summit yesterday, and they were talking about ( founder and chief executive Jeffrey P.)Bezos having bought the Washington Post. You really wonder why? (Laughs). It's all about mobile on your phone, and that's where the future is."

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