Dolphins planning $400M in upgrades

Dolphins planning $400M in upgrades

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross unveiled a plan to modernize Sun Life Stadium on Monday, and promising to personally cover the majority of the $400 million estimated cost of the project.

The rest would come from tax dollars, and that would likely need approval from both state and local lawmakers. However, Ross said that any public dollars for the project would not result in higher taxes for residents of Miami-Dade County.

Instead, the Dolphins are looking for a slightly higher hotel tax in the county, as well as a larger state sales-tax rebate. And in return for the deal, the Dolphins say the deal would keep them in South Florida through at least 2034, though stopped short of saying that not getting public money would jeopardize the franchise's future.

``There's only a limited amount of capital you can put into something,'' Ross said, when asked why the Dolphins aren't choosing to fund the entire project.

The Dolphins' hope is to keep the stadium an attractive destination for major events like Super Bowls - such as the game's 50th installment, to come after the 2015 season - and college football's championship games.

They plan to add about 3,600 new seats closer to the field, improved amenities and a canopy roof that would shield fans from the elements of South Florida's often-harsh weather while preserving a natural-grass playing surface.

These plans are not entirely new. When the Miami area lost in the voting to host the 2014 Super Bowl, local tourism officials were even talking then about things like more seats, better sight lines and a 621,000-square-foot roof which many then called an ``umbrella,'' perhaps still mindful of the scene in February 2007 when fans ran for cover as strong rain came down during the Indianapolis-Chicago title game.

``We have the best weather in the winter in this country,'' Ross said. ``We sometimes forget that fact.''

The notion of asking for public money comes at a particularly thorny time in South Florida, where many residents were outraged at the deal the Miami Marlins got for their new ballpark.

That $634 million facility opened last year amid great fanfare, and with the Marlins carrying a $112 million payroll. The team finished last in the NL East and dealt away a slew of its top players, including Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. The Marlins - who played at Sun Life until getting their own park - have a projected 2013 payroll of about $45.75 million.

``I would say that the only thing we can control is the way we behave and the way we act and the way we approach the partnership,'' Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said. ``We can't undo what's been done in the past, nor would it be fair for us to opine on what could have been done differently. We live here, so we're aware of the view, aware of the public backlash and we have to go about our business very carefully.

``There is a solution where everybody wins here,'' Dee added. ``There doesn't have to be a winner or a loser in every one of these transactions.''

Two of South Florida's major hotels, the Loews Miami Beach and the InterContinental Miami, released statements Monday supporting the Dolphins' plans regarding the stadium.

The Dolphins said the construction deal would result in the creation of about 4,000 jobs, bring international soccer events to the stadium regularly, and create a more comfortable environment for fans. Other amenity improvements would include better lighting and scoreboards.

The Miami Hurricanes, who play their football home games in the 25-year-old stadium, also say they are supporting the plan.

``Every day that goes by, this place gets a day older,'' Dee said. ``What's the long-term future of the Dolphins and the other tenants at this stadium if nothing is done? If we take these steps now and address these needs, we believe this can serve the anchor tenants as well as special events for another quarter-century.''

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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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