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As he announced his plan for a $400 million makeover of Sun Life Stadium Monday, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross promised to approach the project very differently than other stadium financing deals in the past. He pledged to invest more personally and return more to the community than other stadium arrangements; invest a majority of the money into the stadium; and to keep the franchise playing in the stadium for the next 25 years. "Sun Life and Miami will really go together as Miami continues to grow," Ross said.
The Miami Dolphins' campaign for partially tax-funded upgrades at Sun Life Stadium took an aggressive turn this week, as the team bought up ad space in local newspapers to push back at a major critic of the plan and distance the effort from the Miami Marlins' publicly-funded baseball stadium.
The team took out full-page ads in both the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald Tuesday slamming Norman Braman, the former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. The ad points out that Braman solicited public funds for the Eagles' stadium before he sold the team in 1994.
The Dolphins also questioned several assertions made by Braman recently, concluding, "You are entitled to your own opinion, Mr. Braman, but not your own facts."
Braman was not impressed. "This is part of a very orchestrated effort by the Dolphins to get what they want," he told the Miami Herald Tuesday. "They can say whatever they want. [The Dolphins plan] is still welfare for a billionaire."
Additionally, the team sent a fact sheet to media on Tuesday, echoing many of the points made on the website it created as part of its PR effort. The fact sheet included language designed to contrast Sun Life Stadium renovations to the construction of Marlins Park in Little Havana.
"Just because the Marlins did a bad deal doesn’t mean we should oppose a good deal where at least a majority of the cost is paid from private sources and more than 4,000 local jobs are created during construction alone," the fact sheet states. "Marlins Stadium does not generate the ability to attract world-class sports events -- other than a World Series from time to time depending on the success of the team."
Marlins Park will host World Baseball Classic games in March, but those do not generate the tourism dollars that Super Bowls and college football championship games do.
The team also sent a letter to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and county commissioners Tuesday, officially requesting negotiations over Dolphins owner Stephen Ross' proposed plan.
Perhaps making the deal more palatable to county officials, the Herald reported Tuesday night that Ross will likely solicit the NFL for some renovation funds, something other NFL owners have done in the past. However, the NFL is unlikely to promise funding until any public financing has been approved. "Until the legislation passes, it's too speculative," Dolphin spokesman Ric Katz told the Herald.