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PROPOSED: Dolphins Stadium makeover

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I think this we'll be talking about this one for a while, so let's make it it's own thread.

The original Herald article posted by Tivo.

Posted on Mon, Jan. 10, 2005

New name, new look for Dolphins' stadium


[email protected]

Pro Player Stadium is no more.

Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga today will roll out plans that immediately rename the stadium Dolphins Stadium and set the stage for a major refurbishing project that is estimated to cost nearly half a billion dollars.

Huizenga will announce details of the privately funded plan this afternoon at a press conference but in a statement released through the team said, ``The first step was naming Nick Saban as head of our football operations. The Dolphins have always been in the forefront of the sports and entertainment field, and we have developed a series of plans designed to reinforce that position of leadership.''

Huizenga's move sends the stadium in Miami Gardens, on the border of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, both into the past and future.

The stadium was originally named ''Dolphin Stadium'' when it was completed in 1987 at a cost of $115 million. It was later renamed Joe Robbie Stadium and eventually dubbed Pro Player Stadium when naming rights were sold to Pro Player, the defunct sports apparel company that filed for bankruptcy in 1999.

Huizenga retained the rights to re-sell the building's name in 2000, but never reached a deal with a new partner.

It is unclear how the Florida Marlins, who share year-round occupancy of the facility with the Dolphins and other events, will react to the renaming and coming work on the facility. Team officers could not be immediately reached for comment.

But the Marlins, their fans, as well as the Dolphins and their fans will be affected.

''It's our vision to transform the stadium into a year-round destination and a venue that is ready-made for the Super Bowl, Orange Bowl and other major national and international events,'' Huizenga said. 'These changes will not only enhance the fans' enjoyment at our games, but also will attract major events to South Florida more frequently and boost the area's economy while these events use the stadium and its surrounding facilities.''

According to Huizenga, the renovation will be rolled out in three phases because the stadium's existing commitment to the Marlins prevents a more immediate implementation.

Projects currently under consideration for Phase I include a remodeled Club Level and luxury suites, new scoreboards, covered exhibition space that would be event-ready and would serve as an additional parking structure adjacent to the stadium, better traffic egress and ingress, improved pedestrian access and relocation of the Dolphins business offices to the stadium.

These privately funded enhancements are estimated to cost between $100 to $125 million.Phase II, estimated to cost up to $300 million, could not commence until the relocation of the Marlins and that would potentially include expansion of the stadium concourses, a permanent or retractable roof, additional seating capacity, expanded exhibition space and parking structures to augment those built in Phase I, upgraded press capabilities for major events, video studios and fiber optic and satellite communications.

This phase also could include retail shops, restaurants and entertainment areas in a Main Street format.

A Phase III is under consideration.

To manage these operations, Huizenga is creating a new company, Dolphins Enterprises, LLC. This company will serve as an umbrella for all of the Huizenga sports and entertainment operating entities, including sports operations, business operations, stadium operations, stadium development and construction, stadium events and exhibitions, sales and marketing and retail and merchandising.

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Stadium plan rivals an old one

Darcie Lunsford

Real estate experts say H. Wayne Huizenga's plan to transform the former Pro Player Stadium into a sports-oriented, mixed-use hub is no less ambitious than his defunct 1993 plan to build a Disney World-like sports and entertainment complex in southwest Broward County.

But turning a sparsely used sports stadium into a bustling mini city will take more than grand plans, they say. It is going to take careful planning.

"The $64,000 question is: How much use can you get from the stadium and how many people can you pull?" said Gregory Masin, director of retail services at Cushman & Wakefield. Without adding major attractions to draw a steady flow of crowds, mainstream retailers aren't likely to open shop.

The Miami Dolphins owner unveiled his new real estate undertaking Jan. 10. It is a three-phase plan including renovated club areas, new scoreboards, more seats, exhibition space and the creation of a Main Street with retail, restaurants and entertainment venues - all flanked by new offices, residences and a hotel on the 268-acre stadium site.

The project's early components center on improving the stadium and its immediate retail amenities, ringing up a bill nearing $425 million. Later additions would be geared toward bringing businesses, new residents, tourists and destination retail and attractions, such as a Hall of Fame.

A big challenge for the newly renamed Dolphin Stadium project will be competition from the nearby Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The new development has a hotel, 130,000-square-foot casino, retail shops, nightclubs and restaurants, including a Hard Rock Cafe and the Council Oak, a steak and seafood restaurant. The 100-acre complex also includes a spa, lagoon-style pool with a 182-foot water slide and lazy river, and a 5,600-seat concert venue.

"Gambling or a football game are two different draws, but the gambling draw is 365 days a year," Masin said.

To turn his vision into reality, Huizenga will have to jump through some governmental hoops.

The 17-year-old stadium is a development of regional impact (DRI), a state designation that requires an additional level of regional planning oversight.

Adding seats, putting more traffic on the roads and building large-scale retail, office or residential space will require a modification of the DRI.

Too early for filing with planners

So far, Huizenga's development team has not done that, according to the South Florida Regional Planning Council.

Huizenga has hired Wisconsin-based Hammes Co. to craft the master redevelopment plan. Hammes was involved in renovating Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., and developing Ford Field in Detroit. It is also consulting on the hoped-for new Florida Marlins stadium in Miami.

Similar to plans for the Dolphin Stadium project, Ford Field blends a mix of uses around a stadium. The difference - which could prove to be another hurdle - is that Ford is in downtown Detroit, not far-flung suburbia.

Downtowns in tandem with sport stadiums - particularly for spin-off residential uses - are a proven draw.

In downtown San Diego, a residential hotspot called the Ballpark District, has cropped up near PetCo Park, the new 46,000-seat home to the Padres.

The Dolphins' site "is a little different because it is a suburban location," said Bruce Weiner, president of Aventura-based Turnberry Associates, a high-end residential and retail builder and operator. "I think [Huizenga] would have to bring in partners and think long and hard about who is the end-user for that area."

Modest-price residences targeting locals would work, he said; luxury units targeting wealthy jetsetters wouldn't. "I don't think it is a location for second-home residents."

Lambeau Field, home of the fan-owned Green Bay Packers, mixes eateries with themes recognizing Green Bay's rich football history by honoring icons Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi. The Lambeau Field Atrium offers facilities for meetings and social events, including weddings. There also is new plan to build sports-themed condos across the street.

But Green Bay, with little more than 100,000 residents, is hardly sprawling South Florida.

It will likely take a critical mass of attractions, shops and restaurants to draw people from established shopping, entertainment and tourist destinations to a working-class neighborhood in north Miami-Dade County, real estate experts say.

"Remember we were going to have Wayne's World, too," said Cushman & Wakefield's Masin, referring to the nickname given to Huizenga's plan to transform 1,600 acres off Miramar Parkway into a $1 billion sports and entertainment complex when he was the chairman of Blockbuster Entertainment Corp. Huizenga sold Blockbuster to Viacom in 1994 and the plan died.

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I always think that the Dolphins lost some character and mystique when they moved out of the campy, and history filled Orange Bowl. Glad to see that the Dolphins are trying to recreate some of that magic.

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NFL's owners seek local revenue for financial edge

Chad Heiges

H. Wayne Huizenga's plans to renovate Dolphins Stadium - and to establish a sports and entertainment firm to oversee the sweeping changes - is further testament to the changing economics of professional sports in America.

As player salaries continue to rise, revenue derived from sports facilities now represents a critical portion of income streams for franchises in every U.S. professional league. Venue amenities that enhance the fan experience and attract other events are the bellwether of franchise success.

New or modernized stadiums have exploded across the American sports landscape in the last 15 years. Nearly 70 facilities used by franchises in the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball have been erected or upgraded since 1990, and several other projects are in the planning or approval process.

Half of teams in new stadiums

Since 1995, half of all NFL franchises have moved to new confines, from Qwest Field in Seattle to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Huizenga and his fellow NFL owners each receive nearly $100 million a year from national television and radio contracts, sponsorships and ticket sales, placing them several Peyton Manning touchdown passes ahead of other leagues in terms of both overall revenue and franchise equality. Yet sizeable valuation and revenue gaps - attributable to facility economics - have formed within the league.

"Revenue sharing in the NFL certainly levels the playing field, but monies from local arenas now represent the competitive difference among teams," said Jay Lenhardt, senior project manager in the Dallas office of CSL International, a sports consultancy.

Consider this: the Washington Redskins have progressed to the playoffs just once since 1991, yet the team, according to Forbes, remains the most valuable NFL franchise, at $1.1 billion. The team's owner, Daniel Snyder, has effectively boosted local revenue while continually improving amenities and capacity at FedEx Field, the Redskins' home since 1997.

The San Francisco 49ers, by contrast, a team that until the past few seasons had achieved two decades of success, are valued at $636 million, 25th in the league. Their home field, Monster Park, was constructed in 1971.

Widely considered to have the worst stadium deal in the league, the Arizona Cardinals are ranked last and, worse yet, was the only team to lose money during the 2003-2004 season, Forbes contends. Seeking to fly closer to the top, the franchise now has plans for a new $340 million stadium in Glendale, Ariz., expected to be completed in 2006.

Highly valued team in older stadium

The Miami Dolphins have harnessed tradition and the resulting brand recognition to rank continually in the top third of the league. But while the franchise achieved a 20 percent value increase from 2003 to 2004 - from $638 million to $765 million - in Forbes' rankings, only one of the 10 teams more highly valued play in a facility older than Dolphins Stadium.

That team is the Dallas Cowboys, spurred by owner Jerry Jones who, like the Redskins' Snyder, is widely regarded as a master with local revenue growth. But even "America's Team" will move to a new home within four years, as voters in Arlington, Texas, agreed in November to a tax hike to help augment the needed $650 million construction cost.

Huizenga hired the Hammes Co., a Brookfield, Wis.-based facility and planning specialist, to develop the master concept for renovations and additions to the stadium.

As recent project manager for the $295 million renovation of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., and the $500 million construction of Ford Field in Detroit, the firm has valuable experience in contemporary stadium design.

Both facilities illustrate the modern economics of stadiums and arenas - and represent the model toward which Huizenga is working - with their inclusion of expanded retail, restaurants, meeting facilities, interactive exhibits and revenue-manufacturing club seats and luxury suites.

All these amenities allow new facilities to become more desirable as destinations for other major events, including trade shows, corporate conferences and concerts.

Yet continuing the Dolphins success remains Huizenga's primary goal, and he no doubt is intrigued by the Green Bay Packers' financial success following the renovations at Lambeau Field.

Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal, owned by the parent company of the South Florida Business Journal, reported that, after the first full season following project completion, the Packers experienced a 17 percent increase in operating revenue, a 34 percent rise in marketing revenue and a 38 percent spike in merchandise sales.

Now those are economics that even laymen can appreciate.

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As posted by MiamiJR at SSP...




Huizenga pushes Dolphins Stadium as regular 'Supersite'

By Alex Marvez

Staff Writer

Posted March 24 2005

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- If every NFL owner felt the same way as Bob Kraft of the New England Patriots, H. Wayne Huizenga would have no problem converting Dolphins Stadium into a permanent Super Bowl facility.

Kraft said Wednesday that Huizenga's proposal to transform 239 acres surrounding Dolphins Stadium into a "Supersite" was "terrific." Huizenga said he received similar feedback from other owners intrigued by a concept that would dramatically change the way a Super Bowl is presented by expanding and centralizing festivities surrounding America's most popular sporting event.

Huizenga's hope is to build a destination that includes corporate hospitality venues for every NFL team, areas to host pregame and halftime Super Bowl concerts and a proposed eight-story atrium that would span from end zone to end zone on the stadium's south side.

Huizenga also has suggested the NFL generate additional paying customers by conducting events such as youth football championships and the Pro Bowl in the weeks before the game.

"Let's say the Super Bowl is X-sized now and it brings in X amount of dollars for the NFL," Huizenga said after delivering his presentation to fellow teams at the NFL's annual meeting. "We're saying this can bring in 4X, 5X, 6X, 7X. This is big, big numbers. It adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the NFL as far as revenue.

"You can't do that by raising [super Bowl] ticket prices. That's where the idea comes to bring in a lot more events to make this a two-, three-week deal and create events that we don't have now and make it a much bigger thing."

Dolphins Chief Executive Officer Joe Bailey said Wednesday that the NFL has agreed to form a committee to explore the possibility of establishing Dolphins Stadium as a Supersite. But before the Dolphins are willing to begin self-financed construction, at least 24 of 32 NFL owners will have to promise to award South Florida the Super Bowl on a regular basis at a future league meeting.

Huizenga is pushing for the game once every three years, which may not fly in a climate where competition to host the Super Bowl is at an all-time high.

Arizona Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill said he would vote against the proposal because he doesn't believe Super Bowl sites should have a set rotation, while Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he would offer support only if his city also became a regular host. Owners who are undecided voiced other concerns about a Supersite.

"It is going against tradition, and people might not react to that favorably," Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said.

Said Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen: "The first question is can the league give them a Super Bowl every three years? Does it make any sense? And beyond that, I'd like to know a little more about the economics of it. It's a very ambitious kind of project."

Huizenga hopes to temper economic concerns by having the NFL decide how to split the revenue generated from a Supersite. He said there is only a "ballpark" estimate as to how much construction would cost Dolphins Enterprises to build the site. Huizenga theorized that as many as 100,000 fans who didn't have Super Bowl tickets could attend game-day activities in such a locale, which is a revenue stream the NFL doesn't have.

"Our view is this can be considered part of a building block to expand and grow the game," Bailey said. "The notion is that over a two- or three-week period, you can create a destination so that not only people from South Florida but [elsewhere] can actually start to plan and get involved in this festival of football."

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he thinks the Supersite could raise the bar too high for other Super Bowl sites.

"The big issue is the following year, if you go from there to any other city, people are going to say, `What is this about? Last year in Miami, we had all these incredible experiences and great entertainment venues,'" Blank said. "And the league has used the Super Bowl as a way to acknowledge and thank owners, cities and states who have stepped up and made major commitments [to build stadiums].

"There are probably eight [future] games that will be committed to. How you fit Miami into that schedule is not easy. But I think it's a good idea, a big idea that should be explored."

If approved, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Wednesday the Supersite project could take from five to 25 years before coming to fruition. The Dolphins were hoping to learn by May whether the NFL would approve the project, but Tagliabue said he didn't plan to conduct a vote at the next owners' meeting in late May.

Huizenga said he is on a tight deadline to begin Supersite construction because of a limited window to develop the area under zoning-related rules in Miami Gardens. The Dolphins are still planning to renovate Dolphins Stadium and the surrounding area, but such plans would be greatly reduced if a Supersite isn't approved.

"There are a lot of development opportunities we have," Huizenga said. "We have a developer who wants to take the site against [Florida's] Turnpike and put eight residential towers there. We may get there if this thing gets shot down. But that's not our first choice."

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^That idea will never pass, at least not in the next 10 years. The NFL seems to be promising a Super Bowl to every city that builds a new stadium and the list is starting to get pretty long.

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