Phinphanatic Exclusive: Leaked Photos From Meeting With FIFA

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UPDATE: Acoording to Dave Kennedy of “Bitchin’s Look at the Miami Dolphins”, the 24 member FIFA team was flown by helicopter to the Southbeach area where they were taken on an airial tour of the city’s coastline.  According his source, the 24 member team left Miami impressed with the cultural diversity and of course the year round weather.  The team made a final stop in Houston and also visited Dallas as well as a stop in Washington, D.C.

FIFA World Cup Soccer in Miami? It’s a very big possibility. I have learned that a closed door meeting was held with Sun Life Stadium officials, members of the Miami Dolphins, and FIFA.  This “closed door” meeting was in regards to bringing the FIFA World Cup to South Florida, possibly as early as 2018.

Behind this “closed door“, members of the stadium committee pitched the idea of making Miami one of the premier destinations for world sports.  They presented the FIFA contingent with an outline of stadium renovations as well as other accommodations.  The attraction of course is the South Florida weather and the international draw of a diversified city.

The local and national media were not invited.  However, thanks to a clever attendee and his iPhone, we have exclusive photos of what the stadium management team and the Phins are pitching.  And it’s familiar.

Notice the corner stadium live displays and the framed stadium overhang?

The Dolphins had preliminary discussions about stadium renovations that would put a metallic overhang around the stadium.  The idea was brought up around the Super Bowl back in November.  As I recall the team and the stadium were under the gun from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to improve the stadium or risk losing future Super Bowls.

Miami has already lost one, that being to NY in what will be the first open air cold weather Super Bowl in the history of the modern NFL.

No longer is this an issue of upgrading a stadium for football.  This is international.  This is the worlds biggest event.

It appears that Stephen Ross and company are going forward with the idea of renovating the stadium.  I was able to confirm only that a meeting between stadium officials and FIFA took place but calls to the stadium regarding the photos and the immediate direction of this project were met with the typical, “no comment”.

The fact that the Miami stadium team did not invite local media tells me they are not quite ready to roll out the carpet on this.  But, I’m not local media and I am ready to roll it out.  Truth be told, if Miami wants to be “THE” United States premier sports city, then they have to make a few bold moves.  And why shouldn’t they?  Miami is one of the most diversified cities in North America and is still one of the premier vacation destinations as well.  Which unfortunately means there are a lot of Jets fans.

I have witnessed first hand some of the renovations that they have put into the stadium.  The outside facade where the club level is located is actually very cool and the views from there to the tailgating parking lot and the game day festivities below are really awesome.  You can see some of those pics on page two.

The U.S. has put an official “bid” into the FIFA World Cup coffer for the 2018 games but no city or site has been stated.  In the “informal” bid that pits the U.S. against England, Russia, Spain/Portugal, and Netherlands/Belgium, the U.S. outlines what they can bring to the table by hosting an event of this magnitude.  The numbers dwarf the Super Bowl by millions.

According to this U.S. statement on FIFA.com, the estimated visitors to the events could easily top 5 million.

The United States bid for the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cups™ is an open invitation to FIFA to return to this country and build upon the legacy that it founded in 1994.

By awarding the 1994 FIFA World Cup™ to the U.S., FIFA awakened an untapped market to the world’s game.

Today, FIFA’s vision has already paid handsome dividends – but it has the potential to deliver even more both at national and international levels.

With an abundance of existing state-of-the-art stadiums, the U.S. offers ideal playing conditions and ultimate fan experiences, as well as the prospect of record-breaking crowds of five million spectators for the FIFA World Cup™.  Moreover, with similar predictions of unprecedented attendance for FIFA’s Fan Fest and Confederations Cup, the U.S. is poised to play host to a tournament that will help support and develop the game globally for generations to come.

The U.S. is a country founded upon cultural diversity.  Its citizens’ varied heritages and their common passion for the world’s game, unite the country in a spirit of sportsmanship that fuels a commitment to social and environmental causes.

The U.S. celebrates FIFA’s core values, and the opportunity to further FIFA’s goals aligns with our country’s pledge to contribute to a sustainable future for the world and its people.

Today, more than ever, “The Game is in US.”  But while the world’s game has enjoyed remarkable growth within the U.S. since 1994, the potential of continued growth is even more dramatic.

The United States warmly welcomes the privilege of hosting a FIFA World Cup™ in 2018 or 2022.  To fulfill our vast potential is to honor the game, the tournament and its traditions.  Ultimately, however, our goal is simple – to welcome and embrace all people of the world through the game we all love.

State of the art stadiums and facilities?  Yes, Miami has those, but they do need to make huge renovations to a stadium that desperately needs them.  And they are simply not for cosmetic reasons alone.

The design of the stadium is outdated and has been for some time.  A marvel in the late 80’s the stadium lacks the ability to funnel noise to the field creating a legitimate home field advantage.  Dolphins fans can get loud and listening to it live does not translate well to the television viewer at home.  Having that “awning” around the stadium would increase the noise redirection towards the field making the stadium much louder.  Oh, and then of course there is the shade factor, any shade in Miami is well worth it…especially if it deflects some of the rain off the fans as well!

Still, the fact that stadium officials are still looking at this upgrade shows their dedication to marketing South Florida as one of the top cities in the world.  A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to speak with Chris Overholt who was, at the time serving as VP of Marketing Partnerships and New Media. You can read that entire interview here.

One of the things that Chris had mentioned was the drive to make South Florida a premier sports destination.  He spoke then of having international swimming meets at the stadium and mentioned  soccer as well.  Here is a snippet from that interview:

PP: “You spoke on the tour (a Web Weekend Event that toured the stadium) about the future of the Stadium in terms of the upgrades that have taken place thus far, what about the future of the field tenants and what else may this stadium be used for?”

CO“we are trying to become the marquee stadium in the United States. Britain has Wembley which is known world wide, but here in the U.S. there is not that kind of stadium. The U.S. has great stadiums that have historical lore, stadiums like Wrigley and Fenway in Boston. But there is no international stadium in the U.S. We want to become that stadium.”

PP: “By attracting what exactly?”

CO“We already are home to the Dolphins, Marlins, and now to the Hurricanes, so in that respect there is a lot going on at this stadium. Concerts are also an option and we just hosted a very successful concert last weekend. I was over in Australia and they hosted an international swimming competition, they did not have a pool. They held it in a stadium and used a portable pool. We could do that here, easily. But we have to attract it.”

PP: “Wow! That would be pretty interesting, what else are you trying to attract? Soccer is the biggest international sport, are you wanting to go in that direction?”

COAbsolutely. But it has to be the right events, with big name players, star players, its the only way it will work. Forward thinking. We want the international community looking not just southernly at us, but also from the south looking up as well (In reference to Latin America). There are a lot of things we can use this stadium for.”

Forward thinking huh?  A lot of things to use the stadium for?  Yes, that is very true, but modifications to modernize a facility build twenty plus years ago needs to be done.  If simple additions can attract the big time sports events, then why should the Dolphins and Stephen Ross go in that direction?

The idea of Sun Life Stadium being a marquee name in the sports world brings not only more attention to the Miami Dolphins, but more money to the city.  I was born in Miami and I count it as a blessing that once a year I get to return there to take in a Phins game.  It amazes me that there isn’t more going on.  And frankly, I don’t know why.

The problem as I see it now is that there is not enough “BIG” events in South Florida.  The Super Bowl comes once every 4 years or so if your lucky and outside of the Marlins making the World Series there wasn’t much outside of Paul McCartney.  Now that the Marlins are moving out, what will be held in an empty stadium?

There has been talk about a 40 acre water park being built around the stadium grounds but I haven’t heard anything specific.  Still, a water park does nothing to increase the overall appeal of major events.  While stadium renovations are expensive and a tax burden on a cities populace, it goes without saying that attracting “MAJOR” events to the Miami area will fuel the economy with not only a huge influx of money, but jobs as well.  Especially if those events are yearly ocurences outside of the football season.

That’s not to say that the World Cup will roll through Miami every time, but large events and international sports marketing can make Miami a very popular destination.

I find it disheartening that the Dallas Cowboys have this brand spanking new state of the art stadium and Miami can’t get the stadium renovations needed to attract the Super Bowl, FIFA World Cup Soccer, or for that matter, international swim meets.  At least they have the foresight to pitch the ideas and showcase what they could do.  I like the new addition and feel it’s very necessary for the growth of Miami sports.  Not to mention that my seats for Phins games would be that much cooler out of the direct sun-light.

Here is the original stadium upgrade designs that surfaced during the Super Bowl.

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