Could the Miami Dolphins end up leaving Florida?
As an out of town fan and blogger at Phins Phocus, I have wondered about this turn of events that is the eventual vote on renovating Sun Life Stadium. Just down the street, I have noticed how the 49ers have put themselves in position to have a state of the art stadium with naming rights for years to come and flush with cash. On the other hand, I have seen great flagship sports franchises turned into ATM machines with their owners siphoning cash from the team and using it for their personal bank accounts (see the LA Dodgers and NY Mets in recent years). Surely, Stephen Ross faces a conundrum if the Dolphins do not win the public referendum in Dade County Florida on May 14: pay for the renovations with his own money or sell the team.
One of the most interesting bits of information to make news last week was a peak at the Dolphins financial statements. Based on an article by Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald, it was reported that the Dolphins have earned over “25 million in operating profits in recent years.” In fact, the article depicted a financial picture that seems somewhat bleak if the Dolphins cannot win this referendum as evidenced by two consultants charged with the task of reviewing the team’s financials. In fact, the Miami Dolphins franchise, according to these two consultants cannot afford the 350 million dollar cost without the help of Dade County. This fact alone should make longtime Dolphins fans worry about the future of the franchise, especially with the current owner, Stephen Ross.
By spring of 2014, some estimates show that the Dolphins will be operating at a loss of $14 million due to payroll costs. However, by 2014, this number of 14 million pales in comparison to the 70 million dollars in cash losses.
While Mike Dee, can claim it’s attributed to payroll, it’s flat out worrisome when the Dolphins are on the verge of taking the steps necessary to secure financing from the county because they cannot support the efforts themselves.
Taking on future payroll of almost $200 million in new contracts signed by the Dolphins free agent signees, shows the Dolphins commitment on the field, but off the field paying for those contracts will be in question. Where will the revenue come from to pay for the high cost of signing players in free agency?
For all of those pundits who believe that Stephen Ross is a billionaire owner who can afford any free-agent or any future contracts, think about this: all contracts are always based on future dollars. Whether or not the Dolphins have those dollars in the future remains to be seen.
Dolphins fans that either don’t know or don’t care, should because last weeks’ hearing by the county of Dade showed that the Dolphins “need help” to afford the cost of renovating.
These statistics should wake up the Dolphin faithful a bit:
- Dolphins have the third highest debt amongst NFL franchises of 380 million dollars (70 million in interest payments in the 2011-2012 season.)
- Profits for the foreseeable future fall from 1.8 million to at least 5 million (What’s the incentive for Ross to keep a franchise that isn’t earning a profit?)
- 2008 and 2009 included 50 million in cash infusions for Ross to buy the team from H. Wayne Huizenga
Even if the Dolphins do win this public referendum and are set to renovate Sun Life Stadium, just merely having the improved venue is not enough. The Dolphins fans have to come through the turnstiles and enjoy Fanvision and all the amenities the Dolphins offer.
However, if the Dolphins fans don’t start selling out games, the future of the Dolphins looks might bleak and this owner could be viewed as a thief in the night that leaves town for another project real estate venture.