The June 23 fire that destroyed a storage shed in the Miami Edison Senior High field house could have been a devastating blow to the Red Raiders' upcoming football season. At the time, players and coaches, including myself, were still dealing with the tragic death of 17-year-old kicker Richecarde Dumay, one of three teens killed by a drunk, habitually reckless driver in late May. Though the fire was contained to a small space and no one was hurt, Edison lost several thousand dollars' worth of tackling dummies, benches, field markers, and other equipment necessary for practice, which typically begins later this month.
That afternoon, as I stepped off a plane in Atlanta, I received a phone call that the Miami Dolphins wanted to help. The next day, Tom Garfinkel — the Dolphins' vice chairman, president, and chief executive officer — announced that the organization and Baptist Health South Florida would replace all of the equipment damaged or destroyed by the fire. Ann Hake, the team's youth program and camps senior manager, came by the high school to take an inventory of everything that needed to be replaced.
It's not the first time the Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross have answered the call to make Miami-Dade County a better place. Ross is running a professional sports franchise that is second to none. The other major-league franchises in South Florida don't come close. He transformed Hard Rock Stadium from a dump into one of the nation's premier event venues through a $425 million renovation partially financed by a $200 million NFL loan and $75 million of his own money.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Loria, the previous owner of the Miami Marlins, sold the team for $1.2 billion and didn't give anything back to Miami-Dade for building Marlins Park for him. Current Marlins owner Derek Jeter traded away all of the team's best players and is running a minor-league operation. Then there's international soccer star David Beckham and his business partners, who got a free stadium in Fort Lauderdale and want free land in Miami for another stadium. They are whoring themselves to every lobbyist in the city to get the golf course at Melreese Country Club.
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Sure, Miami-Dade will have to pay the Dolphins a $5 million subsidy starting in 2025, but Ross has delivered his end of the bargain by bringing the Super Bowl in 2020, attracting international soccer matches, and reestablishing the Miami Open as one of the premier tennis tournaments in the world. It was failing in Key Biscayne, where residents were fed up with all the traffic the tournament created. The new setup at Hard Rock Stadium rivals that of the U.S. Open, according to tennis experts. Plus, the stadium is the single largest taxpayer in Miami Gardens, paying approximately $7 million a year, roughly $2 million more than Ross was paying before upgrading the stadium.
After catching flak for his comments regarding players protesting the National Anthem over police brutality, Ross hired the first African-American general manager and the first African-American head coach in Dolphins history. Under Ross' tenure, the Dolphins regularly offer free camps and symposiums for youth league and high-school coaches. When the City of Miami kicked Rolling Loud out of Bayfront Park, the music festival moved to Hard Rock Stadium, where it has become the largest hip-hop gathering in the nation.
Unlike other NFL owners, Ross allows local vendors to set up shop outside the stadium during events even though he can't allow them inside due to stadium contracts. In addition, the Dolphins employ nearly 13,000 people for every major event at Hard Rock Stadium. Nearly 20 percent of the workers are from Miami Gardens and nearby Opa-locka. That's no bullshit, because I see these people when I go to the stadium. They are happy and proud to work for the Dolphins.
So I wasn't surprised the Dolphins came through for Miami Edison. Time and again, Ross has proven the Dolphins represent all Miamians regardless of race, ethnicity, or creed.