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Would You Miss The Dolphins If The Team Moved To Another City?

Miami Herald
The recently renamed Hard Rock Stadium has recently undergone a $500 million renovation of the lower bowl.

NFL owners decided overwhelmingly to allow the Raiders to move from Oakland to Las Vegas. The Raiders started in Oakland, moved to Los Angeles, and then went back to Oakland. They're basically playing a very expensive version of 'musical chairs.'

Credit Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Oakland Raiders fans pose for a photo before the first half of an AFC Wild Card game.

I have to add a couple points here: As a former resident of Las Vegas the idea of a professional football team, especially the Raiders, in Sin City - well, it's a mixed bag for me.

Vegas can support a team, at least they did in the early 90s when the UNLV 'Runnin Rebels' basketball team made their amazing run of dominance in college basketball. And it's a city that still revels in its mafioso history, so they might embrace the silver and black bad boy persona. 

But Las Vegas is also a city in constant flux. You think Florida is a transient place? It's a city that likes to modernize and in the process erase the past without shedding a tear.  For example, most of the hotels that made Las Vegas famous are gone (Last Frontier, Flamingo, Sahara, Sands, Riviera, Dunes and Stardust). Most of  those famous neon signs that were always blinking in the back of Elvis and Frank Sinatra movies are gone. You want to find any of those neon signs you literally have to go to a graveyard

Credit Wikapedia
Anthony John Spilotro (May 19, 1938 – June 14, 1986), nicknamed "The Ant", was an American mobster and enforcer for the Chicago Outfit in Las Vegas, Nevada, during the 1970s and 1980s.

This isn't about the Raiders though, nor is it about Las Vegas. It's about losing a football team and whether or not a community used to having one can live without it. I'm talking about us. What would happen if the Dolphins picked up and moved to another city?

You don't think it couldn't happen?

Ask Cleveland fans if they ever thought it could happen to them. That's a team no one ever believed would leave. It was a staple of professional football lore. Remember how that went down... Art Modell ordered the Browns to pack up the trucks and buses and leave for Baltimore in the cover of the night. It wasn't even a breakup. It's like your significant other runs away, takes the dog, and doesn't even leave a Dear John Letter.

Look at St Louis. The locker room in the Edward Jones Dome, recent home of the St Louis Rams, still has the smell of sweat and tears after the team packed up and returned to Los Angeles. Houston lost the Oilers, to eventually get the Texans. Baltimore lost the Colts, to eventually get the Ravens. 

It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Teams pick up and leave. Owners want the best stadium, with the fancy suites and all the latest, modern accommodations. It's actually exactly like the casino owners in Las Vegas who always feel like their 15-year-old casino needs major upgrades...oh hell, tear it down and let's build a bigger one.

Credit Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Matt Gutierrez carries a Raiders flag by a sign welcoming visitors to Las Vegas, Monday

Still doubting it could happen to us? Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero pointed out that the Dolphins were recently in a precarious position, trying to get government help for renovations to what was then called Sun Life Stadium. They could have -though likely not-  been wooed to Los Angeles. So what will happen when Stephen Ross sells the team (because he won't run it forever) and the next owner  says 'we need one of these new mega-stadiums that is part mall, part amusement park, part airport etc.?' Will we say, 'sure, take our tax dollars for that monstrosity'? Probably not. Then, they'll take the team and go elsewhere.

And before you ask, where would they go? Remember, in 10-15 years demographics of cities will change and municipalities we would never think could sustain a team today, might be able to tomorrow. Who are we kidding? If Green Bay can have a team, anyone can.

As a Dolfan now 33 years running, I wonder how I would feel about cheering for the Dolphins if they're the Portland Lumberjacks or the Boise Elks or, God-forbid, the Orlando Dolphins? It can happen. I don't want it to, but I have to admit, it can, and that bothers me.  

Luis Hernandez is an award-winning journalist and host whose career spans three decades in cities across the U.S. He’s the host of WLRN’s newest daily talk show, Sundial (Mon-Thu), and the news anchor every afternoon during All Things Considered.
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