Own It!

This inevitably led to the Fin Zone, a pre-game tailgating experience, and, of course, the availability of Land Shark Lager throughout the stadium. It certainly contributed to buzz that led to increased ticket sales and interest in what very recently was the worst-ranked team in the NFL.

While it seemed like there could be no better sponsor for the Dolphins than Land Shark, Ross was just setting the stage for an even bigger and better deal. On January 20, 2010, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee announced a new multi-dimensional partnership with Sun Life Financial. What is more representative of Miami than the sun?

But the name Jimmy Buffett will always conjure up images of parties in tropical settings, and Ross understands that. “The Jimmy Buffett brand will still be a part of the Miami Dolphins,” he assures. The Fin Zone tailgate and pre-game entertainment will continue, and, “Land Shark will be the official sponsor of the biggest Sunday party in South Florida,” Ross states. “When people come to the games, we show them a great time. We’ve changed the whole atmosphere.”

So now that Ross has upgraded the atmosphere, it’s time to upgrade the stadium. Huizenga started the process three years ago, when he completed a $250 renovation prior to hosting Super Bowl XLI. During that big game, an intense rain storm soaked fans and the field, leaving a foul memory in the minds of NFL executives, who have let it be known that, after 2010, Miami doesn’t have a fighting chance at landing another Super Bowl unless improvements—like the proposed new umbrella/roof—are made. “As part of the community, it falls on our shoulders to make those upgrades happen, if Miami wants to host future Super Bowls and Pro Bowls,” Ross says, although some of the funding will have to come from tax dollars.

The NFL touts that the positive economic impact on a city hosting a Super Bowl can near $500 million; recent academic studies report that it can be less than $100 million. Regardless of the total amount, in South Florida, where foreclosures and unemployment rates soar, any infusion of cash is a good thing. While newspapers and naysayers are spouting that the NFL inflates the impact in order to encourage governments to use tax dollars to fund stadium improvements (such as those that the Dolphins just proposed), Ross is adamant that it is the community—not the stadium—that benefits from hosting the Super Bowl.