Gloria and Emilio Estefan buy stake in Miami Dolphins
BY MANNY GARCIA AND DAVID J. NEAL, Miami Herald
Miami entertainment figures Gloria and Emilio Estefan will be announced as Miami Dolphins minority owners Thursday by Dolphins majority owner Stephen Ross, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
The source said Monday night that the National Football League and the Dolphins are looking to expand their reach to South Florida's growing Hispanic community and are turning to the Estefans as their ambassadors. Like many sports fans in South Florida his age, Emilio Estefan is a longtime Dolphins fan whose favorite player is Hall of Fame Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.
A Monday Dolphins news release said there would be a Thursday morning ''major announcement on behalf of the Dolphins'' hosted by the Estefans and Ross at LandShark Stadium. This is similar to the way the Dolphins announced their association with singer Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville business, which includes Land Shark Lager. Buffett is expected to become a minority owner eventually.
Ross likes show-business personalities and likes to make announcements with a show-business flair and timing. He began speaking with the Estefans three months ago about getting a small piece of the Dolphins.
Now, he has linked the Dolphins to two of South Florida's most famous entertainers -- Buffett, whose music symbolizes the relaxed Florida Keys lifestyle, and Gloria Estefan, whose music could symbolize South Florida's ethnic metamorphosis over the past 25 years.
Emilio Estefan didn't want to comment Monday night, and Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene said the Dolphins ``won't have a comment on anything until the announcement Thursday.''
The NFL has boosted recent efforts to tap into the national Hispanic market as Hispanics have become the nation's fastest-growing minority. Players with Hispanic backgrounds such as Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez and Hall of Fame offensive tackle Anthony Muñoz have been featured in NFL marketing campaigns aimed at Hispanics, particularly youths.
In fact, on Monday, Gloria Estefan was in Nashville recording with this year's Monday Night Football introduction song with Hank Williams Jr. Williams' Are You Ready for Some Football? has become Monday Night Football's signature song since 1989.
The Estefans wouldn't be the NFL's first Hispanic owners. E. Javier Loya, CEO of CHOICE! Energy, is a Houston Texans limited partner.
Linking the Dolphins to the Estefans, who made a significant mark on popular music during the 1980s and '90s, continues Ross' trend of trying to light the Dolphins with a show-business tint.
Since taking over majority ownership of the Dolphins and the former Dolphin Stadium from H. Wayne Huizenga, Ross has reached out to Buffett and changed the name of the stadium, which was also formerly known as Joe Robbie Stadium and Pro Player Stadium.
Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine had several hits in the mid-1980s as South Florida, Miami in particular, tried to rebuild its image after the early 1980s riots and cocaine cowboy shootouts. As a solo act she continued to crank out hit music into this decade while Emilio gained stature as a producer.