Most Miami Dolphins fans were at the very least saddened to hear that former hall of fame Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula had been hospitalized with some health issues. While this in no way signaled that anything is seriously wrong with Shula it was a reminder that he is no longer the young man that we once saw standing on the sidelines during Dolphins games. Shula will turn 87 on his next birthday, this coming January.
To honor the great Dolphins head coach the Florida state legislature in 1983, renamed the South Dade Expressway in southern Dade County the "Don Shula Expressway". Shula has also been honored by having the stadium at John Carrol University, the college that Shula attended and played for, renamed the "Don Shula Stadium". Annually Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University compete in the game named the "Shula Bowl" with the winner of the contest receiving the traveling trophy named the "Don Shula Award". On January 31st, 2010 the Dolphins unveiled a statue of Shula that was installed out front of what at the time was named "Sun Life Stadium".
All of those honors are wonderful and deserved but now it's time for the Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to really step up to the plate. The Dolphins home stadium is now dubbed the "New Miami Dolphins Stadium". The new name is clearly meant to highlight all of the new updates that the team has made to the stadium to modernize it, make it more fan friendly and most importantly to them, please the NFL. Since the stadium was opened way back in 1987 it has gone through many name changes but started out as "Joe Robbie Stadium" for 1987 through 1996. Robbie was, of course, one of the original two owners of the team.
Then came the era of stadium sponsorships or another way for NFL teams to make even more obscene amounts of money. Part of 1996 saw the stadium named "Pro Player Park" followed by the rest of 1996 through 2005 as "Pro Player Stadium". It then went to the non-sponsorship "Dolphins Stadium" for 2005 through 2006 before being truncated to just "Dolphin Stadium" for 2006 to 2009. Then came more sponsorship dollars with Jimmy Buffett's beer putting up some cash to rename the building "Land Shark Stadium" for part of 2009 and 2010. Then the sponsorship was changed again seeing the stadium renamed "Sun Life Stadium" that remained on the building from 2010 until earlier this year.
My proposal is not to get rid of sponsorships. The fact is that these teams are run as businesses and as much as we the fan do not want to think of our favorite team in that way, it is what it is. As such teams will continue to seek out every revenue stream possible to include stadium naming rights. With that in mind, I would like to suggest that Ross puts the name Don Shula on the stadium. Just flat out call it Don Shula Stadium. The fans will love it and it will help Ross with a bit of his reputation for some of the fans that hate him. I know, some are going to hate him no matter what he does but this fact should not keep him from doing the right thing and renaming the building after a Dolphins legend.
So you now ask, what about the sponsorship? Well, they can still add sponsorships and naming rights to the stadium. Just do what they have done in other places like Denver and make it something along the lines of "ThePhinsider.com Field At Don Shula Stadium". Boy does that have a ring to it. Obviously, Kevin is going to have a hell of a time coming up with the funds to put our site name on the building, no matter how glorious that would be, but you get the point.
Mr. Ross, do the right thing and rename the stadium after the greatest coach the Dolphins have ever seen while he is still with us and able to enjoy the honor that he so richly deserves!