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DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross addressed the recent criticism from South Florida sports fans following his record $200 million donation to the University of Michigan, his alma mater.
... To compare giving a gift to the University of Michigan and say I'm taking something away from this community, that I find hard to believe. My commitment to this community is just as great as it was then. In fact, it's greater.” -- Stephen Ross, Dolphins owner, defending $200 million gift to alma mater
According to Ross, he doesn't understand how his donation is being tied into this year's failed request to get partial public funding for approximately $350 million in upgrades to Sun Life Stadium.
"I find it hard to believe that people are saying that," Ross said during a news conference to introduce new Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel.
"When you give a gift to an educational institution that you went to and it's one of the great institutions of our country, to compare that with putting up money for a stadium that benefits all of South Florida ... when we were going through the process, I was to pay back the entire loan.
"I'm prepared to still do that. I'm prepared to work with the community. I'm prepared to make my offer better, because I think the community needs it, and that's what I believe in. But to compare giving a gift to the University of Michigan and say I'm taking something away from this community, that I find hard to believe. My commitment to this community is just as great as it was then. In fact, it's greater."
Ross and the Dolphins were close to getting a bill to go to public vote. However, it was stopped in the 11th hour by the state government in Tallahassee. The Dolphins were upset, because they felt they made enough concessions and had momentum to win on the ballot. Ross seems determined to continue to try to get public funding to upgrade Sun Life Stadium again next year.
"Miami is about big events. The biggest industry down here is still tourism and bringing people here," Ross said. "Having a first-class facility in a city that right now that's the most [desirable] city in the world and really has the opportunity to really step up, I think it really demands it. From an economic development perspective, I don't think there could be anything more important.
In other news, Ross said the Dolphins will not experience any blackouts in 2013. Miami has struggled to fill Sun Life Stadium, but Ross has purchased the remaining tickets.