Miami Dolphins to build ‘best-in-class’ training facility for $75M in Miami Gardens


The “Davie” datelines attached to stories about the Miami Dolphins soon will disappear.

The Dolphins confirmed Tuesday that they’re moving their training facility from Nova Southeastern University to the grounds of Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, possibly as soon as the 2020 season.

Tom Garfinkel, vice chairman and CEO of the Dolphins, confirmed the project, which has long been speculated upon. He said the initial cost projection is $50 million but added that a more realistic bottom line probably is closer to $75 million to $80 million.

That’s in addition to more than a half-billion that owner Stephen Ross recently pumped into the stadium itself to bring it up to today’s standards.

“Facilities don’t win football games,” Garfinkel said. “People do. But I will say that having a great facility is indicative of the best-in-class organization that Steve Ross wants to have. And so this is the next step forward in that evolution and I think is important to creating the best environment we can for our players and our staff.”

The facility is ticketed for the northwest edges of the stadium grounds, off Northwest 27th Avenue. The Dolphins’ business operations already are at the stadium, so Garfinkel said bringing the football operations to the same location “creates communication opportunities” that currently don’t exist with the football players and coaches 11 miles north of the stadium on University Drive.

Garfinkel said the Dolphins are not dissatisfied with their current facility at Nova Southeastern.

“They’ve been great partners to us, so this is in no way a reflection of anything negative there whatsoever,” he said.

But the team has outgrown the facility since moving there in the early ‘90s. As an example, Garfinkel said the weight room initially may have consisted of “a bench press and a couple of bikes and some different things.” Now, the training staff has hot and cold tubs and underwater treadmills. It works with a sports science department that didn’t exist back then.

“So we’ve kind of run out of space,” Garfinkel said. “So the first thing it’s going to do is allow us to build a new, state-of-the-art facility that has enough space for these needs.”

Construction already is underway at Hard Rock for the Miami Open, which will hold its initial tournament in Miami Gardens next spring. Because of that, Garfinkel has been faced with questions regarding parking for football fans at Dolphins and Hurricanes games.

Garfinkel pointed out that the stadium’s original capacity was 75,000, and the parking lots were originally configured as such. Stadium capacity has been cut to 65,000. Garfinkel said there were more than 4,000 excess parking spaces last football season. The tennis structures will swallow about 2,000 of them and the football training facility less than 2,000, which would still leave “excess” spaces, Garfinkel said. Plus, more fans are arriving via ride-sharing.

Garfinkel hopes traffic flow into the lots will improve for the 2019 season when pedestrian bridges and tunnels will allow vehicular traffic to move instead of having to stop for foot traffic.

“It’s a potential safety issue,” Garfinkel said. “Fortunately, we haven’t had any issues, but on some days it can look like a game of Frogger out there.”

Garfinkel also addressed problems with the playing surface early last football season. He said the issues were solved when the Dolphins realized their vendor was supplying bad grass. Once the organization changed vendors, the surface improved. But with an eye on the 2019 season, the Dolphins are acquiring 80 acres in West Palm Beach to begin growing their own sod for the stadium.

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