Stadium Hastily Reclaims Commemorative Panels
Stadium Hastily Reclaims Commemorative Panels
Robert Nolin Staff Columnist, Sun-Sentinel
September 4, 1997

The Ring of Honor   Honor can be a tricky commodity. And when you balance aesthetics against the legacy of some of the greatest names in football, it can easily end up on the scrap heap. Such was the fate of the Miami Dolphins' famed Ring of Honor. Torn from a lofty perch, it found a new home in a salvage yard outside Liberty City. Asked about the ring's final resting place, officials at Pro Player Stadium scrambled on Wednesday to reclaim it. The Ring of Honor is a series of panels commemorating Dolphin demigods and the glory days of the undefeated season of '72. For seven years it circled the stadium's middle tier, just above the luxury suites, bearing the names and seasons of play for such greats as Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Nick Buoniconti and former coach Don Shula. Early last month, much to fans' rancor, it was replaced with a version about half the total size on the harder-to-see upper tier.

Angry critics called radio stations, claiming stadium owner H. Wayne Huizenga just wanted more room for advertisements. Several of the original aluminum panels, in all their orange and teal glory, went on proud display in a warehouse at the Miami salvage company that dismantled the Ring of Honor. ``I put these up to honor the Dolphins and give everybody a chance to see them,'' said Terry Waldron, who with his mother, Barbara, owns American Salvage. ``They do have their place of honor, even though they're hanging in a salvage house.'' A loyal fan, Waldron suspended four of the 11 panels, each 4 feet by 24 feet and weighing 75 pounds, from the steel ceiling of a cavernous warehouse. Mother and son planned to create their own Dolphin shrine by arranging all 11 panels in a semicircle. ``It's still going to be the Ring of Honor, only in our store,'' Barbara Waldron said. ``They'll probably hang there as long as I have control of it,'' Terry Waldron said.

He lost control real fast. As soon as stadium officials fielded Sun-Sentinel inquiries about what happened to the Ring of Honor, they demanded its return. ``I thought we had them all here,'' said stadium president Robert Kramm. ``None of us knew they were at the salvage yard.'' Kramm said the ring's removal was ``a misunderstanding with our staff.'' Terry Waldron said: ``I really don't know what the story is. Apparently we've been storing them for the stadium.'' Waldron said he would pull down the resurrected facade and return it to Pro Player on Friday. In most cases, once a salvager removes an item, it's his to sell for profit. But Waldron will comply with Kramm's request; after all, he's returned items in the past to the stadium, for which he's done previous work. ``I value the work the stadium gives to me, and work to keep them happy,'' he said

Waldron never intended to peddle the panels, just showcase them for customers' pleasure. ``I really couldn't put a price tag on them,'' he said. The ring had graced the stadium since September 1990, when it was still known as Joe Robbie Stadium. But once fans noticed the shrunken ring at this season's opening game, they swamped sports radio with complaints. ``I'm disgusted,'' said Patrick Frey, a Miami pastry chef. ``It's disrespectful to the players who worked hard and put their heart and soul into the team.'' Kramm, however, said the Ring of Honor was replaced to accommodate more names _ and to separate it from nearby advertising. And his plans for the original ring? ``We have a future use for it,'' Kramm said. ``Now wouldn't be the right time to talk about it.'' Go Dolphins...


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