Wednesday, September 4, 2013
On Stephen Ross' donation to Michigan
By James Walker
MIAMI -- If there is one thing we know about Miami Dolphins billionaire owner Stephen Ross, it's that he's not afraid to spend money.
Ross opened his wallet again this week with a huge, $200 million donation to the University of Michigan, both the school and Dolphins announced Wednesday. Ross is a proud Wolverines alum and made the single largest donation in the school's history.
"This historic gift is not only an investment in the University of Michigan, but also in our state,” Michigan school president Mary Sue Coleman said. “Steve Ross believes deeply in our collective future as national and global leaders."
While this is a great thing for the University of Michigan and its state, this may rub some Dolphins fans in South Florida the wrong way.
Ross and the Dolphins just went through a lengthy and bitter battle with the state of Florida over getting public funding to upgrade Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins put together a package where Ross and the state would share costs. However, the state legislature in Tallahassee nixed the bill before it went to public vote. Ross and the Dolphins were furious, because they felt they had enough momentum on their side with Florida residents. Ross told the media in August that he will not give up seeking public funding for Sun Life Stadium and may try again in 2014.
No one can argue that Ross is not putting money and resources into his own team. The Dolphins spent more than $200 million in free agency this offseason and made various upgrades to the uniforms, logo and other areas of the organization. My train of thought is it's Ross' money. He earned it and can spend it however he chooses.
But, right or wrong, don't expect Ross' $200 million donation to Michigan to sit well with many Florida residents and perhaps the state legislature if the Dolphins seek public funding again next year. The natural reaction is some of that money could have went to upgrading Sun Life Stadium, where the Dolphins have had attendance issues for many years.