Dolphins owner confirms reports of plans to upgrade stadium

Renovations to Sun Life Stadium would include a partial canopy to shade seats.

Robert Mayer

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on Tuesday confirmed earlier reports he plans to renovate Sun Life Stadium with private funds in exchange for property tax breaks.

"I have made clear I want the stadium modernized because it’s right for our fans and it’s right for Miami-Dade and South Florida," Ross said in a statement released by the team. "I have decided the best way to get this done is to pay for the project with private funds. All we ask in return is that we are treated the same as all franchises in the state of Florida. A world-class city needs a world-class stadium."

The Associated Press reported Monday that Ross had offered to pay up to $400 million in stadium renovations in exchange for $2 million-$4 million a year in property tax reductions. The stadium upgrades are needed for the facility to remain competitive in bidding for Super Bowls and college football’s championship games.

Ross tried to secure public funds for the renovation last year but the proposal died in the state legislature.

"We haven’t won a Super Bowl bid in Miami-Dade in far too long, and we know that with the stadium as an issue, we never will unless it is modernized," Ross said. "The Super Bowl Committee will have to decide if they want to compete for the next two Super Bowls so time is of the essence. It is time to move forward.

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"This privately funded project will create more than 4,000 local jobs. We can bring back the Super Bowl, the College Football Playoff Championship and world-class soccer matches — and all the revenue those big events generate for the local community. I am going to make the commitment and provide the resources because Miami deserves the economic benefits of a modernized stadium."

The AP reported Ross has discussed his proposal with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who said obstacles still remain.

"Mr. Ross’ proposal is better than last year’s," Gimenez said. "However, there are still hurdles that the Dolphins organization must overcome before I feel comfortable with the proposal."

Stadium renovations would include a partial canopy to shade seats currently exposed and upgrading the club level.

"For me, this is about something more," Ross said. "I grew up here in Miami-Dade and have been part of this area for most of my life. I want to do this for the community that has done so much for me, and for this storied franchise that means so much to the people of South Florida. With this project, we can secure the future of the Dolphins in Miami-Dade for another 20 years. That is more important to me than anything else."

Sun Life Stadium last hosted a Super Bowl in 2010, when the New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts. 

You can follow Charlie McCarthy on Twitter @mccarthy_chas or email him at mac1763@bellsouth.net.