Call it Dolphins Stadium

Miami Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga faces reporters Monday in Davie, where he discussed the name change of Pro Player Stadium to Dolphins Stadium. A three-phase renovation is planned to transform the stadium into a "venue that is ready-made for the Super Bowl, Orange Bowl and other major national and international events," Huizenga said.

AP Photo/Miami Herald, Emily Michot
Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 10:19 p.m.
MIAMI - The Miami Dolphins have a new coach and a new name for their stadium, and owner Wayne Huizenga wants to keep the changes coming.
Reviving and revising a concept that dates back more than a decade, Huizenga unveiled plans Monday to expand Dolphins Stadium - its new name - into a full-scale entertainment complex designed to lure major events.
The former Pro Player Stadium will be remodeled and expanded to add convention facilities, and upgrades may include a roof, Huizenga said. He said his family will pay for the costs, which could exceed $400 million, and no public money will be used.
"Part of it is ego. Part of it is wanting the Dolphins to have the best, to be the leaders," Huizenga said. "I'm not hiding the fact that's part of it. That doesn't bother me at all. Everybody has an ego. I think it's great that we can do this for the Dolphins and have a winning team playing in a winning atmosphere."
The name change takes place nearly five years after Huizenga unsuccessfully began seeking a new naming-rights sponsor for the ballpark. Pro Player signed a 10-year, $20 million deal with the Dolphins in 1996, but the sports apparel company was bought out five years ago.
A new management company - Dolphins Enterprises LLC - is being created to run the stadium and the Dolphins. A chief executive officer for that company will be named shortly, Huizenga said.
The CEO will report directly to Huizenga, as will Nick Saban, who became coach last week.
"We have a vision to achieve these goals," Huizenga said. "The first step was hiring Nick Saban to be the head coach."
In the early 1990s, Huizenga envisioned a 2,300-acre entertainment complex called Blockbuster Park, named for the video rental giant he once owned. He eventually sold the company to Viacom for $8.5 billion, which opted not to go through with the plans for what was dubbed "Wayne's World."
"I would have built that if I was still the CEO and still owned the company," Huizenga said. "But we sold the company for the benefit of our shareholders."
Huizenga's new master plan for the Dolphins complex includes a village-type setting with a hotel, restaurants and entertainment areas.
A three-phase renovation is planned to transform 17-year-old Dolphins Stadium "into a year-round destination and a venue that is ready-made for the Super Bowl, Orange Bowl and other major national and international events," Huizenga said.
The first phase of the makeover may include new scoreboards, remodeled suites, new exhibition space, additional parking and a new traffic flow around the ballpark, at an estimated cost of $100 million to $125 million.
Other remodeling plans would not begin until the Florida Marlins leave the stadium. Their lease expires in 2010, and they've been told it will not be renewed. The Marlins hope to be playing in a new ballpark near downtown by 2008.
The second phase of the project might include a permanent or retractable roof - something the Marlins have long sought. The third phase, which likely couldn't begin until 2009 at the earliest, would add hotel space and entertainment venues.
"It wasn't long ago, actually 17 years ago, when it was the best stadium around," Huizenga said. "Needless to say, 17 years have passed. It is still a great stadium. There's nothing wrong with the stadium here, but I think we can take it to the next level ... and make it a true world-class facility."

Bates says he won't return

  • Former Miami Dolphins interim coach Jim Bates said Monday he'll seek work elsewhere rather than remain with the team as an assistant to new coach Nick Saban.
    "Nick and I are good friends, and we respect each other as colleagues," Bates said in a statement released by the Dolphins. "But I think this decision is in the best interest of the football team."
    When Dave Wannstedt resigned as coach in November, Bates was promoted from defensive coordinator and led Miami to three wins in the final seven games. He was interviewed for the head coaching job, but owner Wayne Huizenga hired Saban instead.
    Saban said three of his assistants at LSU will be joining the Dolphins staff: Derek Dooley, Will Muschamp and Bobby Williams. Scott O'Brien was hired as coordinator of football operations.
    Saban and Bates were assistants together with the Cleveland Browns in 1991-93, and they met last week to discuss the possibility of Bates remaining with Miami as an assistant. But Bates acknowledged it would be difficult for him to resume his former role after being "in front of the room."
    Saban said he was disappointed by Bates' decision but wished him well.
    "He did a great job under very difficult circumstances," Saban said. "He proved that in addition to being an outstanding defensive coordinator, he has the ability to be a successful head coach in the National Football League."
    Saban was offered the Miami job because he had an advantage over Bates in head coaching experience, Huizenga said. Before this season, Bates' most recent head coaching job was in the USFL in 1985.
    "We love Jim. He's fantastic, he was fun to watch, fun to be with," Huizenga said. "We have nothing but good things to say about Jim. He's terrific. He just doesn't have the experience that Nick's got."
    Dooley and Williams will be offensive assistants, and Muschamp will be a defensive assistant. Their specific responsibilities will be determined when the staff is completed, Saban said.
    O'Brien has spent 14 seasons in the NFL, including the past six as assistant head coach-special teams with Carolina, and he was on the Browns' staff with Saban in the early 1990s. He'll handle special assignments for Saban and work with the Dolphins' personnel department.
    -The Associated Press
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