Jump to content

Stephen M. Ross

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Stephen Ross
Ross in 2012
Stephen Michael Ross

(1940-05-10) May 10, 1940 (age 84)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan (BBA)
Wayne State University (JD)
New York University (LLM)
Occupation(s)Chairman of Related Companies,
95% owner of Miami Dolphins
Known forDeveloping the Deutsche Bank Center and the Hudson Yards
RelativesMax Fisher (uncle)

American football career
Miami Dolphins
Career history
As an executive:

Stephen Michael Ross (born May 10, 1940) is an American real estate developer, philanthropist, and sports team owner. Ross is the chairman of Related Companies, a global real estate development firm he founded in 1972. Related is best known for developing the Deutsche Bank Center, as well as the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project. Ross has a net worth of $10.1 billion in 2020, ranking him 185 on Forbes Billionaires List in 2020.[1][2] He is still featured on the list as of 2023.[3] Ross is also the principal owner of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium.[4]

Ross is a major benefactor of his alma-mater, the University of Michigan; with lifetime contributions of $478 million to the university, he is the largest donor in the university's history.[2][5] According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, his higher education gifts rank behind only those of fellow American billionaire New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.[5][6] The University of Michigan renamed its business school to the Ross School of Business in Ross's honor, in 2004, after he made a $100 million gift to fund a new business-school building.[7][8] The Stephen M. Ross Academic Center was completed in winter 2006. In September 2013, Ross donated $200 million to the university ($100 million to the business school and $100 million to Michigan athletics), the largest single gift in the history of the university; the University of Michigan announced plans to rename the university's athletics campus in his honor.[5] In 2020, Ross announced an additional $100 million donation to kickstart fundraising for the construction of the University of Michigan Detroit Center for Innovation.[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Born and raised in Detroit, Stephen Michael Ross grew up in a Jewish family.[10][11][12] He first attended Mumford High School in Detroit[13] and later graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School. He attended the University of Florida for two years before transferring to the University of Michigan, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1962.[14] He later received a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University in 1965 and a Master of Laws in Taxation from the New York University School of Law in 1966.[15] These later degrees were financed by a loan from his uncle, the businessman Max Fisher,[13] who Ross has called "the most important role model and inspiration for me in life."[16]


Ross began his career as a tax attorney at Coopers & Lybrand in Detroit. In 1968, he moved to New York City and accepted a position as an assistant vice president in the real estate subsidiary of Laird Inc., then worked in the corporate finance department of Bear Stearns. In 1972, he was fired from that company after clashing with a superior;[17] living off $10,000 ($67,000 in 2021 dollars) lent to him by his mother,[18] he utilized his federal tax law knowledge to organize deals for wealthy investors, allowing them to shelter income with the generous incentives granted by the federal government to promote the construction of federally subsidized affordable housing.[18]

Ross was very successful, earning $150,000 in his first year,[18] and he was soon arranging more complicated transactions.

Related Companies[edit]

In 1972, Ross founded Related Companies, a real estate development company.[19] Related originally began as the Related Housing Companies, which built thousands of subsidized low and moderate income apartments nationwide.[20] By the 1980s, Ross turned towards higher-profile projects. He hired architect Robert A.M. Stern in the 1990s to design The Chatham on the corner of 65th Street and Third Avenue. Related soon began developing “some of the thorniest projects in the city,” such as Willets Point, an industrial field near Citi Field, and the New York Coliseum.[20]

Headquartered in New York City, Related now has offices and real estate developments in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, D.C., South Florida, Abu Dhabi, and London. The company directly employs approximately 4,000 people.[21][22] The company's existing portfolio of real estate assets, valued at over $60 billion, is made up of mixed-use, residential, retail, office, trade show and affordable properties in what the company calls "premier high-barrier-to-entry markets."[22]

Related is the largest owner of luxury residential rental properties with over 40,000 units in its portfolio[23] and has developed mixed-use projects such as Deutsche Bank Center in New York, CityPlace in West Palm Beach, The Grand in Los Angeles (designed by Frank Gehry)[20] and the 28-acre Hudson Yards project[24] on Manhattan's west side.[25] Hudson Yards is the largest and most expensive real-estate project in America — at almost a billion dollars an acre. Ross constructed an atrium inside Hudson Yards specifically to entice Coach into moving into the development.[20]

Related is also a major investor in Equinox Fitness Clubs, SoulCycle and fast casual restaurant chains.[21][26]

Miami Dolphins[edit]

In February 2008, Ross bought 50% of the Miami Dolphins franchise, Dolphin Stadium (now known as Hard Rock Stadium), and surrounding land from then-owner Wayne Huizenga for $550 million, with an agreement to later become the Dolphins' managing general partner. On January 20, 2009, Ross closed on the purchase of an additional 45% of the team from Huizenga. The total value of the deal was $1.1 billion.[27][28] This means Ross is now the owner of 95% of both the franchise and the stadium. Ross announced his intention to keep Bill Parcells as the director of football operations.[4]

Since buying the Dolphins, Ross has brought in Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Venus Williams, Tony Chesta and Serena Williams as minority owners of the team. In 2013, Roger Goodell made a pitch to the Florida legislature on Ross’ behalf in order to obtain multimillion-dollar public funding from the state to help renovate Hard Rock Stadium, the Dolphins' home field.[29][30] The Dolphins wanted $3 million a year for the next 30 years, with Ross committed to funding 70% of the cost.[30] However, Florida lawmakers rejected the proposal, despite granting over $100 million in subsidies to The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Ross ended up spending $500 million out-of-pocket to refresh the stadium.[30]

On March 27, 2017, Ross cast the only "no" vote in the NFL owners' 31–1 "yes" decision on the Oakland Raiders request for approval to move to Las Vegas starting in the 2020 season. Ross said he had no personal problems with Raiders owner Mark Davis and wished the franchise well, but did not think the Raiders did everything they could to stay in Oakland, and also that having 3 teams move within only 15 months (the Rams and Chargers both moved to Los Angeles) was not good for players or fans. Ross also stated prior to his Dolphins playing the Chargers in their first home game since the move to Los Angeles that he did not believe that Chargers owner Dean Spanos made his best effort to stay in San Diego, making him a popular figure with the upset San Diego fan base.

Since 2019, the Miami Open has been hosted at the Hard Rock Stadium.[31]

On February 1, 2022, Ross and the Dolphins, among other teams, were cited in a federal class-action lawsuit brought forth by his former head coach Brian Flores,[32] alleging that Ross offered Flores a $100,000 bonus for every game he lost in the Dolphins’ 2019 campaign.[33] As of February 2, 2022, the NFL publicly denied all allegations against Ross and all others listed in the lawsuit, releasing in an official statement: "We will defend against these claims, which are without merit."

On August 2, 2022, it was announced that following a six-month independent investigation by Mary Jo White and a team of lawyers, the NFL would strip the Dolphins of their 2023 first-round draft pick and a 2024 third-round draft pick for violating the league's anti-tampering policy on three occasions from 2019 to 2022 by engaging in impermissible conversations with quarterback Tom Brady and then-New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, both of whom were under contract with other teams. Ross, the team owner, was also fined $1.5 million and suspended through October 17, 2022, and was prohibited from being at the Dolphins' facility or representing the team at any event until then. He was also prohibited from attending any league meeting before the annual meeting in 2023, and was removed from all league committees indefinitely.[34] Vice chairman/limited partner Bruce Beal was fined $500,000 and was not permitted to attend any league meetings for the rest of the 2022 season.[35] The investigation did not find that the Dolphins intentionally lost games during the 2019 season.


Ross owns the Miami International Autodrome, a purpose-built temporary circuit around Hard Rock Stadium. The Autodrome has exclusive rights to host the Miami Grand Prix through the 2032 season, with the Formula One Grand Prix held for the first time during the 2022 season. Ross had been trying to bring about the Miami Grand Prix for several years before being successful. The circuit layout is designed in a way that local residents would not be disrupted by the races. It is also one of the newest racetracks in the United States.[36]

RSE Ventures[edit]

RSE Ventures is a private investment firm that focuses on sports and entertainment, media and marketing, food and lifestyle, and technology. RSE Ventures was co-founded in 2012 by Ross and Matt Higgins, former executive vice president of the New York Jets.[37][38] RSE builds, owns and operates a variety of companies, including the Drone Racing League, Thuzio, VaynerMedia, and Relevent.[39][40][41]

Civic and philanthropic activities[edit]

In 2004, Ross made the single largest contribution (at the time) to the University of Michigan by donating $100 million to the school.[8] The university renamed its business school Ross School of Business in his honor. Ross invested in a partnership named RERI that was donated to the University of Michigan. RERI obtained its own appraisal for the donation in the amount of $32.935 million. The university sold the Ross-donated remaining interest in December 2005.[42] Ross was co-chair of the University of Michigan's fundraising campaign, which was completed in May 2007. On September 12, 2013, it was announced Ross had committed an additional $200 million gift to the university, to be distributed equally among the Ross School of Business and the university's athletic department. It replaced Charlie Munger's 2013 contribution of $115 million as the largest single gift in the university's history.[43] On September 20, 2017, Ross donated an additional $50 million to the University of Michigan, the majority of which would support career development programs for students, innovative action-based learning experiences, and resources for attracting and developing junior faculty.[44]

In 2015, Ross founded RISE, a coalition which fights racism and promotes social justice within the sports industry. RISE has partnered with NASCAR, National Lacrosse League, PGA of America, Professional Women's Hockey Players Association, United States Tennis Association, and USA Track & Field.[45][46]

In 2020, he committed $63.5 million to support the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, bringing his total contribution to the program to $100 million. The program features a network of over 350 experts working in cities around the globe to create accessible, equitable, and resilient urban areas. Ross also helped establish the WRI Ross Center and the New Urban Mobility alliance (NUMO), with contributions of $36.5 million.[47] The same year, Ross made an additional $13 million donation to RISE, bringing his total commitment to $30 million.[45][46]

Ross is chairperson emeritus of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the city's leading real estate trade association. As a member of the board of trustees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Ross was involved in the planning of a major renovation of the Frank Lloyd Wright iconic building and other new museums. He is a trustee of New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Urban Land Institute, the NY Chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, the Levin Institute and is a director of the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the World Resources Institute.[48]

Ross serves on the Board for the Cornell Tech Campus,[49] a $2B redevelopment of Roosevelt Island including the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, a partnership between Cornell University and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology that when completed will house several thousand postgraduate students, hundreds of faculty, and a high-tech business incubator.[50]


Ross has contributed major donations to individuals and organizations of both the Democratic and Republican parties. He has previously donated funds to Chuck Schumer, Jerry Nadler, Andrew Cuomo, George Pataki, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, the New York Republican State Committee, and the Republican National Committee.[51]

Ross was a major supporter and contributor to the 2012 presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.[11][52]

In August 2019, it was reported that Ross would host a major fundraiser for Donald Trump's 2020 presidential campaign at his Hamptons home on August 9.[53][54]

In response to calls for boycotts of companies affiliated with Ross, a spokesperson for Equinox and SoulCycle told CNN, "Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it. As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians."[55][56][57]

In 2021, his super PAC, Common Sense NYC, spent $550,000 to oppose eight progressive Democrats in New York City's 2021 City Council election. They succeeded in helping defeat six of the eight Democrats.[58]

Honors and awards[edit]

Ross has received numerous honors for his business, civic, and philanthropic activities.

In 2009, he was named #3 in The New York Observer's Most Powerful Person in New York Real Estate list.[59]

In 2017, the University of Michigan presented him with an ESPY Award for his philanthropic contributions to the school.[60]

In 2018, the Jackie Robinson Foundation awarded Ross with the ROBIE Lifetime Achievement Award.[61] He was inducted into the NFL Leadership Hall of Fame in 2019.[62]

In 2020, Ross and the Miami Dolphins were awarded the Paul Tagliabue Award for diversity.[63] The following year, Sports Business Journal recognized Ross as a leader in diversity and inclusive hiring.[64]

Personal life[edit]

Ross has two children from his first marriage.[65] In April 2021, it was made public that he was divorcing his second wife, Kara (née Gaffney) Ross, after 18 years of marriage.[66] He has two stepchildren with Gaffney.[65]

Ross owns an 11,000 square foot oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach named "The Reef".[67]


  1. ^ Carl Swanson (February 18, 2019). "The Only Man Who Could Build Oz How Stephen Ross outmaneuvered, outspent, out-leveraged, and out-sweet-talked his way into the Hudson Yards deal". Intelligencer. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Kellie Woodhouse, Stephen M. Ross gives University of Michigan record $200M (September 4, 2013), AnnArbor.com.
  3. ^ Glanzer, Ted (2023-04-09). "Real Estate Billionaires on Forbes' 2023 List". The Real Deal. Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  4. ^ a b Stephen Ross Buys Ownership of the Miami Dolphins Archived 2009-01-21 at the Wayback Machine SI.com, January 20, 2009
  5. ^ a b c David Jesse, U-M receives record-setting $200-million donation from Stephen Ross, Detroit Free Press (September 4, 2013).
  6. ^ $1.1 Billion in Thanks From Bloomberg to Johns Hopkins. Retrieved on 2013-11-12.
  7. ^ Why Change the Name of the School? | Stephen M. Ross – University of Michigan Business School Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2012-03-22.
  8. ^ a b About the Gift | Stephen M. Ross – University of Michigan Business School Archived 2011-04-25 at the Wayback Machine. Bus.umich.edu. Retrieved on 2012-03-22.
  9. ^ University of Michigan Press Office (2020-02-27). "Stephen Ross announces $100 million gift to Detroit Center for Innovation" (Press release). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  10. ^ "Stephen M. Ross" BY ALIZA DAVIDOVIT retrieved October 25, 2012
  11. ^ a b The Jewish Daily Forward: "Romney PAC Attracts New Jewish Donors: Hedge Fund Managers and Developers Top List of Supporters" by Josh Nathan-Kazis March 12, 2012
  12. ^ The New York Jewish Week: "Billionaires Busy Praying?" by Gary Rosenblatt August 23, 2008
  13. ^ a b Murray, Tom (June 4, 2015). "Family Ties: Stephen M. Ross parlayed two family loans into a multibillion-dollar enterprise". dbusiness. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  14. ^ "Stephen M. Ross". michiganross.umich.edu. Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  15. ^ Ross, Huizenga complete Fins sale. Sports.espn.go.com (2009-01-21). Retrieved on 2012-03-22.
  16. ^ "Ross' connections with Michigan". michiganross. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  17. ^ Wiener-Bronner, Danielle (April 16, 2018). "Billionaire real estate developer: Getting fired was the best thing that happened to me". CNN Business. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  18. ^ a b c University of Michigan: "Two Men, One Vision - With $100 Million Gift, Steve Ross Archived 2012-09-13 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved March 23, 2013
  19. ^ "Stephen M. Ross J.D." Bloomberg Newsweek. Retrieved 8 November 2013.[dead link]
  20. ^ a b c d Carl Swanson (February 18, 2019). "The Only Man Who Could Build Oz". New York Magazine. Retrieved December 14, 2023.
  21. ^ a b "STEPHEN M. ROSS Chairman and Founder Related Companies". Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  22. ^ a b "Stephen Ross". Forbes. Retrieved December 14, 2023.
  23. ^ C.J. Hughes (June 13, 2013). "A Smoking Ban in All Related Companies Rentals". New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2023.
  24. ^ Anatomy of a deal: Inside Related/Oxford's unusual financing of Hudson Yards" The Real Deal (August 13, 2013)
  25. ^ Brennan, Morgan (2012-03-07). "Stephen Ross: The Billionaire Who Is Rebuilding New York". Forbes.
  26. ^ "Stephen Ross". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  27. ^ "Ross Becomes Miami Dolphins Majority Owner". CBS. 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2010-04-03.[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ "Ross, Huizenga complete Fins sale". ESPN. Associated Press. 2009-01-21. Retrieved 2010-04-03.
  29. ^ "Dee: Fins' future in Miami 'bleak'". ESPN. 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2013-05-06.
  30. ^ a b c Jeff Ostrowski (January 31, 2020). "Super Bowl 2020: Stiff-armed in search for public funds, Stephen Ross opened checkbook, landed big prize". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved September 29, 2023.
  31. ^ "MIAMI OPEN ENTERS NEW ERA AS IT RELOCATES TO HARD ROCK STADIUM IN 2019". Miami Open. December 20, 2017. Retrieved September 29, 2023.
  32. ^ "Brian Flores Alleges Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross Offered $100,000 Per Loss in 2019".
  33. ^ "Brian Flores' Lawsuit Accuses Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross Of Paying Coach $100,000 For Every Loss In Effort To Tank For Better Draft Pick". CBS Boston. 2022-01-01.
  34. ^ "NFL strips Dolphins of draft picks for Brady, Payton contact; fines, suspends owner Ross". UPI. Retrieved 2022-08-02.
  35. ^ "NFL strips Miami Dolphins of 2023 first-round pick, fines Stephen Ross $1.5M for tampering with Tom Brady, Sean Payton". ESPN.com. 2022-08-02. Retrieved 2022-08-02.
  36. ^ Keith Collantine (October 4, 2019). "New car park track proposed for 2021 Miami Grand Prix". Race Fans. Retrieved September 29, 2023.
  37. ^ Matthew Futterman (February 29, 2012). "Ex-Jets Executive Joins Miami Owner's Venture". The Wall Street Journal.
  38. ^ Andrew Abramson (January 4, 2014). "Young and influential: Miami Dolphins fans know little of Matt Higgins, key adviser to owner Stephen Ross". The Palm Beach Post.
  39. ^ Jason Belzer (July 24, 2014). "How RSE Ventures Is Revolutionizing Business As We Know It". Forbes.
  40. ^ Emily Nonko (August 12, 2015). "Developer Stephen Ross's RSE Ventures Invests in Drone Racing". Wall Street Journal.
  41. ^ Greg Morabito (December 13, 2016). "Momofuku Gets a New Investor, Vaucluse Adds a Bar Menu, and More Intel". Eater.com.
  42. ^ Dolan, Matthew; Jesse, David. "How Stephen M. Ross' gift to the University of Michigan ended up in tax court". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  43. ^ "Stephen Ross tosses University of Michigan $200 million donation". Ann Arbor Journal. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  44. ^ Guest, Greta (20 September 2017). "Stephen Ross gives additional $50 million to U-M, bringing total lifetime giving to $378 million". University of Michigan News. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  45. ^ a b "Dolphins owner, RISE founder Stephen Ross commits $13M to further efforts to combat racism". NFL. June 26, 2020. Retrieved March 24, 2024.
  46. ^ a b Cameron Wolfe (October 1, 2020). "Miami Dolphins provide framework for diverse leadership on, off field". ESPN. Retrieved March 24, 2024.
  47. ^ "Stephen M. Ross Committs $63.5 million For Resilient, Sustainable Cities". WRI. December 7, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2024.
  48. ^ World Resources Institute Biosketch of Stephen M. Ross. Accessed March 27, 2012.
  49. ^ "Board of Overseers". Cornell Tech. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  50. ^ "Tech Incubator at Cornell's Roosevelt Island Campus Tops Out". Curbed NY. 2016-03-02. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  51. ^ "Donor Lookup". Open Secrets. Retrieved February 4, 2024.
  52. ^ Forbes: "Billionaires Give $2 Million to Romney Super PAC" by Laurie Bennett February 1, 2012
  53. ^ "Trump scheduled to headline fundraisers in the Hamptons, where tickets run as high as $250,000". The Washington Post. 2019-08-06. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  54. ^ Fung, Esther (August 7, 2019). "Stephen Ross's Planned Trump Fundraiser Draws Calls for Boycotts". WSJ.
  55. ^ Ries, Brian (August 7, 2019). "Owner of SoulCycle and the Miami Dolphins faces outrage and calls for boycott over Trump fundraiser". CNN. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  56. ^ Haque, Umair, (When) Will Americans Learn to Be Citizens Before They’re Consumers?, Eand.co, August 10, 2019
  57. ^ Voytko, Lisette. "Billionaire Stephen Ross Holds Stake In One Of Trump's Biggest Creditors". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  58. ^ Schwartz, Brian (2021-07-13). "Real estate billionaire-backed super PAC claims big wins over progressives in NYC council primaries". CNBC. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
  59. ^ "The 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate" (PDF). Jared Kushner. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 13, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  60. ^ "Michigan graduate Stephen Ross honored with ESPY for philanthropy".
  61. ^ "Jackie Robinson Foundation to Honor Hudson Yards Developer, Miami Dolphins Owner, and Founder of Rise, Stephen Ross, at Annual ROBIE Awards Dinner". Bloomberg. March 1, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2024.
  62. ^ "NFF Leadership Hall of Fame Inductees". Football Foundation. Retrieved May 5, 2024.
  63. ^ "Miami Dolphins receive the Paul Tagliabue Award for diversity".
  64. ^ "All In: Leaders in diversity and inclusive hiring".
  65. ^ a b O'Halloran, Caroline (March 18, 2011). "Rock star ascending: Main Line-bred jewelry maker Kara Ross". Mainline Media News. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013.
  66. ^ "Steve Ross' Ex-Wife Lands in $5.6M Fifth Avenue Pad". 29 March 2022.
  67. ^ Bear, Rob (8 May 2013). "Stephen M. Ross The Reef Palm Beach". Curbed. Retrieved 23 March 2019.

External links[edit]