steve-ross_web.jpgMIAMI GARDENS — The Miami Dolphins have a deal in place to renovate their stadium and will begin work this summer on the $350 million project which will help South Florida’s chances of hosting Super Bowls.

County commissioners gave final approval Tuesday to the plan which will pay incentives to the Dolphins for hosting the Super Bowl and other major events. In exchange, team owner Steve Ross will pay for the renovations with help from the NFL and possibly from a state subsidy.

Planned renovations include a canopy over the stands but not the field and upgrading the lights, sound system and seats, with the goal of having the work completed before the start of the 2016 season.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear South Florida wouldn’t get another Super Bowl without significant improvements to the stadium which opened in 1987. Ross has been lobbying for renovations since he became majority owner in 2009 and he called the agreement with Miami-Dade County “unique and creative.”

“We have one of the world’s most aspirational cities and, as such, deserve a
stadium that will provide significant economic impact to Miami-Dade County,” Ross said in a statement. “This will not only secure the future of the Dolphins but will [also] ensure that Miami has one of the world’s best venues to host events of this magnitude going forward.”

South Florida and New Orleans are tied for the most Super Bowls, with 10. The most recent one in the Miami area, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, was in 2010 and the Dolphins intends to bid next spring for the next available Super Bowl which will be played in 2019.

“That was part of the intent of trying to get it done,” president and CEO Tom Garfinkel said. “We want to bring in as many marquee events as we can as soon as we can.”

Under the agreement, Miami-Dade County will use tourist development money to pay the Dolphins $4 million for each Super Bowl played at the stadium, $3 million for each college football national championship game and $2 million for a college playoff game. The county also will pay for events such as soccer matches and major concerts.

“It shows the commitment that our owner, Steve Ross, has to make this a world-class organization,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “It’s exciting for everybody in the organization and I think it’s exciting for everybody in the South Florida region. I’m sure we’ll be able to attract some great events. It’s a big day for us.”

Ross is now eligible for NFL money given to teams that secure government help in stadium deals. He’s also pursuing a new state program that could bring as much as $3 million a year to the stadium beyond the $2 million the state already pays.

The team will continue to pay property taxes on the stadium. The Dolphins’ delegation at the commission meeting included Pro Football Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Larry Little, along with former players Jason Taylor, Dick Anderson and Nat Moore. Marino played in the first game at the stadium.

“I’m excited that it’s going to be around and get a new look,” Marino said. “It’s great for the community.” The deal with the county came together after efforts by Ross to secure county and state tax money failed last year. Without legislative approval of that proposal, the Dolphins were unable to go forward with a planned referendum on the issue in Miami-Dade County.