Saturday, December 12, 2009

Joe Robbie Stadium


When a fan on Facebook suggested that the Miami Dolphins current home of Land Shark Stadium return to its old name "Joe Robbie Stadium," I quickly posted my comments and definitely agreed. I accepted two friend requests for taking such a stance.

The former late owner of the Dolphins privately financed the stadium on what was called the Lake LuCerne site by using a lot of his own money to get his team out of the aging Orange Bowl.

When I was working for the now defunct Hallandale Digest, Robbie and I talked about the subject regularly when he owned the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. He was so shrewd that at the time, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle prohibited cross sports ownership therefore he put the North American Soccer League's team in his wife Elizabeth's name, but Mr. Robbie was calling the shots. Now cross ownership is common in all sports.

Robbie told me that he didn't care if he went in debt because in life we're always going to be in debt. In this current economy, he's totally correct.

But more importantly, Robbie told me that he despised the Orange Bowl and called it a "Museum" and even had offers to move the team to Orlando where it would play in the Tangerine Bowl. He turned them down because he was determined to keep the team in South Florida.

He chose not to take the Art Modell route and move the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, or Tennessee Titans Owner Bud Adams, who relocated the Houston Oilers to Nashville. Holding a city hostage like other owners have to build a new stadium and threatening to move the team was not Robbie's style.

The stadium Robbie built has had different names.

It's been called Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro-Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium and now Land Shark Stadium. I didn't mind the Pro-Player Stadium because it had an athletic identity. Dolphin Stadium was a natural fit.

In this day where commercialism does pay revenue for sponsorships and enhance a team's revenue, it's still gratifying to see some teams pass on that additional revenue and maintain the integrity of attending the venue.

I'd find it hard to watch a baseball game in Los Angeles with Dodger Stadium being called something else. Dodger Stadium was one of the first stadiums to ever be privately financed.

I'm glad that when I attend a Detroit Red Wings game that this facility remains Joe Louis Arena.

Louis was a proud sports hero in Detroit and the former heavyweight champion made this city proud with his success by giving Americans a reason to watch Boxing during his era.

The Red Wings four recent Stanley Cup championships have only added to the luster of a proud "Original Six Franchise" playing under the roof of Louis, giving this a major championship feeling.

A few years ago, I had a chance to pay tribute to Louis when I visited Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Approximately 45 minutes north depending on traffic and weather on I-75, late Detroit Pistons Owner Bill Davidson probably had many offers to rename "The Palace of Auburn Hills." But his privately financed venue's name remains the same.

Ironically, Davidson once told me at a Pistons game that he used Joe Robbie's model with luxury suites and amenities as a guideline to build his own arena. Now all new sports stadiums around the country have followed the lead of these two shrewd pioneers who were way ahead of their time.

Could you imagine Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Lambeau Field, Arrowhead Stadium, The Rose Bowl, Rupp Arena, Michigan Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo and the New Orleans Superdome being named anything else?

The Detroit Lions find themselves in an unusual situation because Ford Motor Company is commercial, yet the name of the corporation is still a family name with the venue being called Ford Field.

So as a tribute to my friends at Facebook and to a pair of owners that I enjoyed working with, referring to Robbie and Davidson, I won't use a commercial reference to promote these corporations and refer to these traditional private stadiums with their original given names in all my media outlets from this moment on.

Scott Morganroth's blog can be seen on and can be reached at

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