Stephen Ross: Miami Dolphins Still Looking For Stadium Upgrades

Dolphins owner is optimistic about team ahead of 2013 season, has not given up on improving Sun Life Stadium

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross would like to find a way to pay for upgrades to Sun Life Stadium, even though a plan to secure public financing for a portion of the $350 million needed to fund improvements died in the Florida legislature earlier this year.

"We're exploring everything," he said Wednesday. "Have I given up? The answer is no. The importance of the team, the importance of bringing marquee events to Miami is paramount."

The NFL denied bids for South Florida to host the 50th and 51st Super Bowls at Sun Life shortly after the Dolphins lost out in the legislature, underscoring the need for stadium upgrades.

Sun Life Stadium was not the only topic Ross addressed Wednesday. He also gave an upbeat assessment of his team heading into the 2013 season, giving endorsements to second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill and as well as embattled general manager Jeff Ireland.

"In pro football you need to have a great quarterback," Ross said. "We certainly believe and hope we've selected that quarterback [in Tannehill]. I love the guy. I think he's the right person to lead the way."

He was even more explicit about Ireland, who has drawn criticism from Dolphins fans as the team has gone 27-37 in the last four seasons.

"I'm committed to Jeff Ireland," Ross said. "I think he's doing a great job."

Ross' vote of confidence aside, Ireland cannot afford another losing season. Last year the Dolphins posted their worst home attendance since 1980, and Ross said he is wary of being a permanent also-ran in the Miami sports scene behind the Miami Heat.

"You want to bring back the winning tradition. You want to see progress," Ross said. "We certainly want to make the playoffs, but I want to see growth in the team in building the foundation for this season and future seasons. I don't want to be a one-shot wonder."

But Ross remains optimistic after his staff handed out roughly $150 million worth of new contracts over the summer. If the new pieces play up to their contracts, the problem drawing should take care of itself, according to Ross.

"Miami has a reputation that it's a tough sports town," he said. "You've got to win. When we're winning, we'll get the proper response."

Ross also said the team is making progress towards finding a replacement for former CEO Mike Dee, who will be taking the same position with the San Diego Padres. Ross expects to make a hiring decision around Sept. 1.

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