MIAMI — Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says the team's stadium must be upgraded if South Florida is to host another Super Bowl, spurring his decision to pay for up to $400 million in renovations himself.
In exchange, Ross wants an exemption from up to $4 million in annual property taxes, with Miami-Dade County assuming ownership of the stadium.
That arrangement would be similar to those of the county's other professional teams. The Miami Marlins' ballpark and the Miami Heat's arena are county-owned and exempt from taxation.
"I want the stadium modernized because it's right for our fans and it's right for Miami-Dade and South Florida," Ross said Tuesday in a statement. "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 Dolphins' latest plan to finance stadium improvements was disclosed Monday. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he's not yet comfortable with the proposal, but said it represented progress in efforts to upgrade the stadium.
Ross' bid last year for tax money to help fund the work was rejected by the Florida Legislature.
South Florida has hosted the Super Bowl 10 times, most recently in 2010. The 2018 game will be awarded at the league's spring meeting next year, and Commissioner Roger Goodell has said stadium upgrades would keep South Florida in contention for Super Bowls.
Ross hasn't threatened to move the Dolphins but said their future is an issue in the debate about funding for stadium improvements.
"With this project, we can secure the future of the Dolphins in Miami-Dade for another 20 years," Ross said.
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve_Wine