Former Dolphins, Panthers Marlins owner Huizenga dies at 80

Wayne Huizenga (Courtesy: Sun-Sentinel)

A successful businessman, who once led three of the professional sports teams in South Florida, has died. The daughter of former Dolphins, Marlins and Panthers owner Wayne Huizenga has confirmed that he passed away at the age of 80

Huizenga was only U.S. businessman to found three Fortune 500 companies, Waste Management, Blockbuster and AutoNation.

The man with the hard-to-pronounce Dutch surname (HIGH-zing-a) hailed from the Chicago area, but it was in Florida — his home for more than 60 years — that he gained celebrity status for his entrepreneurial energy and vision.

No person can get more credit for advancing pro sports in South Florida than Huizenga. He was the second owner of the Dolphins, and obtained expansion franchises that became the Florida Panthers and the Florida Marlins. He ended his 19-year run as a sports owner with the sale of the Dolphins in 2009.

The cause of death was not given.

Huizenga has been honored in the Miami's diamond-tiled Walk of Fame on State Road A1A and in 2010, when Fort Lauderdale marked its 100th anniversary, Huizenga was named "Man of the Centennial" by the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society.