Stephen Ross, the majority owner of the Miami Dolphins, is going to great lengths to turn the stadium he effectively bought back for just over a billion dollars in 2008 into a “destination”. The latest of these moves involves bringing the spirit and energy of F1 racing to the state.
Ross is putting as much as three hundred and fifty million dollars of his own money into renovating the stadium, but all of that effort will come to nothing if people don’t go there to see football games. The answer to this conundrum in Ross’s mind is to follow the advice of world-renowned investment guru Warren Buffet—“Always look for alternative sources of income.” For Ross, the alternative source is Formula 1.
Ross partnered with Qatar to buy the Formula One Racing Circuit from Bernie Ecclestone, a move that many investors consider risky, especially given the reputation Qatar currently has with its links to FIFA. These views are well-founded considering the current turbulence surrounding the next couple of World Cups. But, this move has plenty of positive potential for Ross if everything works out.
Unlike American football, Formula 1 is an established international spectacle, even if it doesn’t appeal to the local population; they can still count on international fans to provide the needed stimulus. It may shock a few people, but F1 racing is one of the most watched sports in the entire world, with more than four hundred million viewers last year. These are numbers that rival the exposure of the World Cup, which gets most of its appeal from the fact that it relies on nationalism and its four-year cycle.
In addition, Formula 1 is a sport that comes with high-end sponsorships, which is exactly what Sun Life Stadium needs to seriously begin its rehabilitation. The corporate hospitality also doesn’t hurt in elevating the profile and status of Miami as a place to be when it comes to motorsports.
Ross can also use the wealth and contacts in sports and real estate as leverage to put either the Stadium or the team with greater opportunities for exposure. If the plan pans out in the way Ross hopes it would, it can place a considerable dent in the Stadium’s debt and allow the team and its management to focus on football.