The name “John Ruiz” has been a priority for nearly every University of Miami (UM) football boosters and brokers last week, after the billionaire lawyer do it surprise announcement he was forming an “Orange Bowl Stadium Committee” to explore the possibility of building a new football stadium on the campus of Coral Gables High School.
This follows the sacking of head coach Manny Diaz and the surprise announcement that University of Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal, to whom Ruiz is bound by marriage – will be his replacement. The Miami-based lawyer, who previously ran the popular financial advice program The Ley on Spanish TV and now runs a business called MSP recovery who is arguing Medicare claims, trumpeted his vision on Twitter, saying the new stadium would have a retractable roof and would be adjacent to the public high school.
This vision was met with widespread disapproval from the school district, city leaders and alumni of Gables High. More than 3,100 people have signed a petition to essentially “Save Coral Gables High” of the Ruiz plan.
“A really ridiculous idea in all respects!” a former student commented on the Coral Gables Senior High Grads! Facebook group. “Look for land that doesn’t disrupt a residential community, that can withstand traffic and noise factors. ”
“No one in the Town of Coral Gables has had a conversation with Mr Ruiz and we are NOT in favor of a stadium project,” read the statement emailed to the Town of Coral Gables. New times. Also, a stadium is not compatible with surrounding neighborhoods and Coral Gables High School is a community institution that we appreciate. This property is owned by Miami-Dade County Public Schools. This proposal is speculative and we do not support . ”
Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, spokesperson for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, echoed the city’s statement, saying the district “has not been officially approached over any proposal to build a stadium on the Coral Gables High School website “.
Ruiz, however, is not discouraged. He says New times it continues to form a steering committee that will work to assess the feasibility of building a stadium on at least one of six venues (including Gables High). Diana Diaz, who co-chairs the committee and works as director of communications for the Ruiz company, said she and Ruiz would conduct aerial inspections of the other sites on Saturday from one of Ruiz’s helicopters.
“We’re just going to say we’re definitely exploring and visited a number of sites,” said Diaz, a Gables High, UM alumnus and longtime WSVN-7 reporter. “We don’t want to go down this route again until we reduce these really viable locations.”
Diaz says the group is not yet free to disclose the locations of other sites under investigation.
“The main objective is to provide not only a stadium, but a community,” said Ruiz. “To give back to the younger generation and to provide a platform that students across Dade County can benefit from. Nothing is being done to harm anyone.”
The news comes at a pivotal time for the college football schedule as she takes Cristobal on board and searches for a new athletic director. Technically, the Hurricanes haven’t had a stadium of their own since 2008, when the Orange Bowl was razed. The team has since played their home games at Hard Rock Stadium, more than 12 miles from campus via I-95.
Ruiz says he was quick to make the announcement in a bid to clean the air after a MU sports blog implied in a Dec. 4 report on the then-rumored proposal that Gables High could be demolished to make way for the future stadium (Ruiz says it never was).
“People kind of created adversity without really knowing what the plan was,” Ruiz said. “So like anything else, you shouldn’t make a pro or con decision until you know the situation. The big picture is we’re looking at all of the options, not just Coral Gables Senior High.”
Aside from the obviously forced messy deployment, Ruiz has had controversial business ventures in the past, and he lacks experience in sports administration and development.
Take, for example, his attempt nearly a decade ago to topple the 130-acre Homestead Sports Complex: with the help of Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman, a former political ally who was convicted of charges of corruption in 2014, the city council at the time the stadium was handed over to Ruiz who agreed to spend nearly $ 2 million on renovations and $ 250,000 in naming rights. The terms of the lease-to-own agreement meant Ruiz could buy the stadium for $ 16 million after a seven-year lease.
The deal imploded, however. Ruiz was ultimately unable to make any utility payments on the property, was unable to insure the location and the Town of Homestead filed a trial to deport him in 2013. Not to mention the Ministry of Children and Families found that a group that rented the space was staying near two dozen Venezuelan teens in the locker room in 2012. (In 2012, Ruiz, owner of boatbuilder Cigarette Racing Team, also repossessed his luxury cigarette boat.)
“The Homestead stadium was a huge success,” Ruiz retorts. “It’s a bunch of corrupt politicians who have kept us from functioning.”
On Thursday, Ruiz announced that he was $ 10 million donation to build a new sports facility at Westminster Christian School in Palmetto Bay.
Ruiz tells New times he has made a generous donation to the university in the past although he declined to say when and how much. Ruiz says he’s in talks to donate even more money to UM and an announcement on that front is imminent.