Friday, May 8, 2009

Landshark Stadium - Miami Dolphins Stadium Name Change

Desperate times call for desperate measures:

The Miami Herald Reports: With an adoring, colorfully dressed crowd swaying to his music and the stadium now bearing the name of his beer, Jimmy Buffett took the microphone and assessed his new Miami Dolphins partnership in four words.

''This,'' he told a few hundred fans, "is really cool.''

Sports, celebrity and music intersected Friday morning at the newly renamed LandShark Stadium, formerly Dolphin Stadium. It's a deal Dolphins and stadium owner Stephen Ross hopes will give his facility more of a tropical, South Florida feel on game days.

Details of the agreement:

• Though Ross said ''we are going to be associated with Jimmy Buffett forever,'' the facility will be called LandShark Stadium only until the end of the Dolphins' season.

When next season's Pro Bowl and Super Bowl are held in South Florida, it likely will be called Dolphin Stadium or bear the name of a new corporate partner. The Dolphins will continue their search for a more permanent corporate name for 2010 and beyond.

• Though terms of the contract were not disclosed, two people close to the deal said they were told Buffett is not paying a straight rights fee but instead will compensate Ross through appearances, other marketing opportunities and potential concert performances. Ross said he is not sure if Buffett will perform at any Dolphins games, but ``he's going to be featured at tailgates. We are going to incorporate him to be a big part of the Dolphins.''

With Buffett's presence, ''We give the fans an experience no other NFL city will be able to do,'' Ross told the crowd. ``It's something I've always dreamt about -- seeing how we could merge Jimmy Buffett and the Dolphins.''

Buffett also wrote new lyrics to his song Fins. ''That song will be with us forever,'' Ross said. ``You'll hear that more than once or twice when you're at a Dolphin game.''

Ross said the longtime Dolphins fight song (''Miami has the Dolphins, the greatest football team . . .'') will not ``disappear. We'll see what plays out, what's the more popular song.''

• Ross said there will be a Margaritaville-themed area at the stadium, including places to tailgate, but offered few details. Stadium officials said plans were still being formulated, but if there is a restaurant or dining area, it would be open only on game days.

• Ross said he did not know if Buffett eventually will become a minority owner in the team. ''He has a lot of other interests,'' Ross said. ``We're friends. We've talked about it. He's a solid Miami Dolphin fan, has been one of the biggest fans. That's what really attracted him to me to start with.''

• Dolphin Stadium will sell LandShark beer, as well as other alcohol. Alcohol sales will continue to be cut off at the end of halftime for Dolphins and University of Miami games, except in premium-seat areas. LandShark Lager is brewed by Anheuser-Busch under the Margaritaville Brewing Label.

• Stadium president Bruce Schulze said the staff will begin changing the ''countless number'' of Dolphin Stadium signs to LandShark Stadium signs.

Ross said the partnership with Buffett would help achieve his goal of creating ``a new fan experience. This is the first of many things we hope to be announcing over the next several months. With HDTV, you can sit at home. We've got to create an experience and a reason to come here and have a good time.''

Buffett -- who sang three songs for the crowd (including the new version of Fins) -- did not speak to reporters, but said in a written statement: ``I am honored and look forward to working (not that hard) with the Dolphin organization. I just want to thank Steve for having the idea to think a little out of the box and including us in his vision of more fun for the fans. All I can add is, Let the Fin begin.''

Karen Manco, a Deerfield Beach resident who was invited to the event through her friend's company, said she is not a football fan but will start attending games strictly because of Buffett's involvement.

''I like what Ross is doing -- he's bringing life into the stadium,'' said another person in attendance, Hollywood accountant Joe Cardamon, a Dolphins season-ticket holder the past 12 years.

The University of Miami is believed to have had some concern about naming the stadium after a beer, but neither UM nor the Florida Marlins had any control over the matter. UM officials declined to comment Friday.

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