Own It!

The last time I spoke with New York-based billionaire Stephen Ross was a little more than two years ago. He was going to be featured on the cover of Haute Living New York, along with his longtime business associate and friend Jorge Perez. The article was to be a “State of the Real Estate Union,” so my questions focused on the New Yorker’s long and celebrated real estate career; Ross’ Related Companies has been a force in the industry since its inception, with trophy developments like West Palm’s CityPlace, New York’s Time Warner Center, and Los Angeles’ The Century under its belt, and major projects like the huge renovation of Penn Station and Aspen Snowmass base village under works.

Yet, Ross seemed distracted. He didn’t want to discuss the projects he had going on at the time. Throughout our entire conversation, his mind seemed elsewhere. Two short days later, I found out why:

Ross bought the Miami Dolphins.

For a cool $550 million, Ross had purchased 50 percent ownership of the team and stadium from Wayne Huizenga. No wonder he was distracted. It was the ardent football fan’s lifelong dream realized, and he likely was afraid if he opened his mouth, the news would come pouring out.

Today, he is talking. And after last year, when he upped his ante to more than $1 billion and became 95 percent owner of the team (Huizenga retains five percent), he immediately began to make changes that got the whole league talking. With his stadium serving as the host venue of the 2010 Super Bowl, these drastic changes will soon be on the lips of people around the country and across the world.