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Joseph Robbie (July 7, 1916 – January 7, 1990) was an American attorney, politician, and the principal founder of the Miami Dolphins.

Joe Robbie
JoeRobbie1 (cropped).jpg
Family photo of Robbie, taken in the 1940s
Born(1916-07-07)July 7, 1916
Sisseton, South Dakota, United States
DiedJanuary 7, 1990(1990-01-07) (aged 73)
Coral Gables, Florida, United States
Alma materNorthern State University
University of South Dakota School of Law
Known forFirst owner of the Miami Dolphins
Net worth$100 million (at death)
Spouse(s)Elizabeth, 1942–1990 (his death)

Early lifeEdit

Robbie was raised in Sisseton, South Dakota, the second of five children. His father was a Lebanese immigrant and restaurant manager; his mother was a baker and the daughter of Irish immigrants.[1] He was raised Catholic.[2]

At 14 years old, Robbie was the sportswriter for his local newspaper, The People's Press.[3] In 1934, during the Great Depression, Robbie dropped out of high school to work as a lumberjack for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Black Hills, sending $25 of his $30 monthly earnings home to his family. After completing his high school education in 1936, Robbie enrolled at Northern State Teachers College on a debating scholarship.[1] After three years, he transferred to the University of South Dakota.[2] Robbie met his future wife, Elizabeth, while he was a senior at the school and she was a freshman. The couple was married two years later.[1]

Robbie enlisted in the Navy on the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Robbie saw substantial action in the Pacific theater and was awarded a Bronze Star for his service. After his discharge, he used the G.I. Bill to return to University of South Dakota School of Law as a law student.[1]


Following his graduation from law school, Robbie worked as a deputy state's attorney and a professor of economics at Dakota Wesleyan University.[4] In 1948, at 33 years old, Robbie entered politics. He was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives as a Democrat.[1] In 1950, he ran for Governor of South Dakota but lost to Sigurd Anderson.[2] The following year, Robbie and his family moved to Minneapolis at the encouragement of then-mayor Hubert H. Humphrey.[1]

His political and business careers further developed in Minnesota. In addition to operating his own law firm, Robbie served as regional counsel for the Office of Price Stabilization in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.[5] He was also a charter member of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Commission and chairman of the Minnesota Municipal Commission.[6] In addition to working on Humphrey's political campaigns, Robbie represented Minnesota's 5th congressional district at the 1960 Democratic National Convention.[2][7]

Robbie also worked as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry from the 1960s until his death. In 1963, he appeared before the United States Senate to voice opposition to a bill which would have regulated tobacco advertising.[8] From 1971 until 1989, he was the head of the Minnesota Candy & Tobacco Distributors Association.[9]

Professional sportsEdit

After moving to Minneapolis, Robbie took an interest in professional football and became a Minnesota Vikings season ticket holder.[10] In March 1965, Joe Foss, the commissioner of the American Football League, met with Robbie in Washington, D.C. Foss had attended the University of South Dakota and served in the Navy with Robbie. Foss recommended that Robbie look into Miami as a potential site for an expansion franchise. Robbie formed a partnership with comedian Danny Thomas, a fellow Lebanese-American, and raised the $7.5 million expansion fee.[1]

The Dolphins' and Marlins' stadium was officially called Joe Robbie Stadium from its opening in 1987 until 1996, where it has undergone a series of name changes since (it is currently known as Hard Rock Stadium).

Robbie had a small part playing himself in the film Black Sunday, in which he is interviewed about security for Super Bowl X (1976).[11]

Robbie also owned the Miami Toros and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (later the Minnesota Strikers) soccer teams of the North American Soccer League. Joe Robbie Stadium was one of the first major stadiums in the US designed with soccer in mind.

Honors and awardsEdit

For his contributions to the Miami Dolphins, and being the founder of the team, Joe Robbie became the inaugural inductee into The Miami Dolphin Honor Roll on September 16, 1990 (eight months after his death).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Lynch, Ray (January 9, 1990). "A Man Of Perfection Joe Robbie Had A Fire That Warmed Many And Burned A Few, Says Danny Thomas". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Connelly, Michael; Hill, Bob (August 16, 1987). "A Dream Fulfilled Joe Robbie Was Told By Many People That There Was No Way He Would Be Able To Build A Stadium For His Professional Football Team. Joe Robbie Stadium Opens Tonight". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  3. ^ Rosenberg, Michael (November 23, 2015). "The Super Bowl that tore the Robbie family apart". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  4. ^ "Joseph Robbie, Jr., Will Address Carroll Students". Independent Record. May 11, 1952. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  5. ^ "Grocery Price Test in Fargo Held Success". Austin Daily Herald. February 11, 1952. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  6. ^ Millman, Joel (December 1986). "Miami Blitz". Mother Jones. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  7. ^ "Minnesota Delegation to the 1960 Democratic National Convention". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  8. ^ "Cigarette Ad Ban Bill Favored". Albert Lea Tribune. April 11, 1963. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  9. ^ "The Joseph Robbie Page". Smokers History. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  10. ^ George, Dave (September 5, 2015). "Joe Robbie's political, Hollywood ties helped secure Dolphins franchise". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  11. ^ Movieclips (May 2, 2012). "Black Sunday (5/8) Movie CLIP - What Exactly Is This Super Bowl? (1977) HD". Retrieved January 3, 2017 – via YouTube.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Preceded by
First owner
Miami Dolphins Principal Owner
Succeeded by
Wayne Huizenga