Tick-Tock: Will The Miami Dolphins (And Their Stadium) Be Ready For The New Season?

Jun 29, 2016

These days the Sun Life Stadium looks like one of those Transformers robots that got stuck midway through its metamorphosis into something. Cranes stretch up into the sky, metal rigs like giant Lego sets sit on each corner of the stadium. It's impressive, but will it be done in time for the start of the season, let alone the start of pre-season?

Reporter Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald says it is likely, barring Mother Nature interfering.

Will the stadium renovations be ready before the start of the season?

That truly is the half-billion-dollar question. Steven Ross has put up [hundreds of millions] in private funds to make sure it's ready for the start of the season. They are, if not completely, on pace to be done by September 1st, the fourth preseason game.

Two, three, four hundred people are working around the clock, 24 hours a day, on that facility. While you were asleep at 2 in the morning, there are people lifting beams and tresses, working around the clock to make sure it gets done in time.

The problem is there's one thing they can't control -- Mother Nature. So if a massive tropical storm or, God forbid, a hurricane comes through, they could be in serious trouble.

So what is plan B just in case if that actually happens and they can't get it done in time? 

Well, they have a couple of contingencies in place. There might be a possibility they could go back to Orlando. I don't know if Florida International University (FIU) would be in the cards, but there are other facilities they could use.

Really the September 1st preseason game is the only question mark because after that they are  on the road for the first two weeks of the season, so they have almost another entire month before the Dolphins return home. That's the real target.

Steve Ross absolutely wants this done on time. They're way over budget -- probably close to a $100 million  over at this point. And it's all out of his own pocket, so clearly the priority is to get this thing done in time.

I don't think what people understand, though, is how complex of a project this is. This isn't just putting on an awning on the end of your deck. This is as complex of a construction project as Steve Ross has ever been involved in. And for those that don't know his background, he runs a company which has built some of the biggest skyscrapers in the world. Right now they're putting together an enormous project in the south end of Manhattan's navy yard. And Steve Ross says that this is just as difficult as that project is, so it really is tough to get this done on time.

Let's talk about the team. At the start of last year there was all this expectation that the team would be great. They were 6-10. I'd imagine nobody's talking about greatness.

No, the Kool-Aid is back in the jug and we're not drinking it again this year. For Dolphins fans, it's a show-me type of situation. They're not going to believe any of the hype until they actually see it happen.

This team has had one playoff appearance since the early 2000s. They haven't won a playoff game in more than a decade and it's taken a toll on their fan base. You look at the ratings every year. They slip a little bit more. They shrunk the stadium [because] they're having trouble filling the place. There are entire generations of South Floridians that don't remember the Dolphins winning playoff games, which is stunning for those like me. 

The team picked up Leremy Tunsil in the draft. How did he perform in the minicamp?

He did well. They're not giving him the job. Most think he'll be the starting left guard of this team when the season begins. But through mini camp he wasn't the starter, so I don't know if that's just a little bit of message-sending from the coaching staff. He's [Tunsil] a gifted athlete. He could have been a No. 1 pick in the draft if not for all the shenanigans with the gas mask that came up and made his draft stock slip. But he's going to be a good player, there's no doubt.

This is a very big year for quarterback Ryan Tannehill

There's an escape clause in the contract that they [the Dolphins] can walk away after this year with minimal pain. He is what he is, and that's a middle of the pack quarterback. He's not terrible; he's not great. The question is is he good enough? If you surround him with the right pieces, with a great offensive line, with a killer defense, with all the skill position players in the world,  can he play at a high level? 

I think the blueprint is the Cincinnati Bengals. Andy Dalton isn't one of the best four, five, or six quarterbacks in football. He's a pretty good player, but he's not great. They have so much talent that they make the playoffs year in and year out. I think that's the formula for this franchise.

And the new head coach [Adam Gase], what's the feel like now compared to last year?

It's night and day. The players love him. Certainly they have an affinity for him and respect for him they never had for Joe Philbin. Again, that's all great in July and August, but when it's September, October, November, is it going to make a difference? We'll soon see.