It’s hard to imagine for some of us old-timers, but the Miami Dolphins have played in what was originally called Joe Robbie Stadium longer than they played in the Orange Bowl. Sun Life Stadium, as it is now called has been around for 30 years. The Dolphins played in the rickety old Orange Bowl for 20 seasons.
Graphic via tophdgallery
When Sun Life first opened up in 1985 it was pretty swank, especially when compared to the Orange Bowl. The stadium was designed much like the old Giants stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. At the time, that stadium was plush as well, replacing old Shea Stadium as the New York Jets home and Yankee Stadium as the home of the New York Giants. But Met Life Stadium has already replaced that stadium, which is so plush it convinced the NFL to play a Super Bowl game in New York in the dead of winter.
Miami is a regular Super Bowl host, but the stadium is no longer Super Bowl material. It is far from a dump, but when compared to stadiums in New York, Dallas, Phoenix and Detroit, it is in need of an upgrade.
Since Miami wants to bring the Super Bowl back they have announced the old stadium will be getting an upgrade. A roof will be added along with new giant video boards and more seats. If you’ve ever been to an afternoon game in this stadium, you will realize what a huge deal a retractable roof will be.
I went to an AFC Championship Game there at Sun Life Stadium in mid-January. Kickoff was at around 12:30 Eastern. Outside the stadium it was a nice day, even a bit chilly. That was perfect football weather. I was wearing aqua sweat pants a long sleeved aqua shirt, a Dolphins t-shirt over that and a Dolphins cap.
After we went inside we noticed something troubling. The temperature inside the stadium was a whole lot hotter than outside. The stadium seats were all the same height all around the stadium, which prevented any breeze from coming inside. Soon we were stripping down to our tee-shirts but we really couldn’t take our now extremely hot sweat pants off. It was a brutally hit four hours of football. How the fans could stand a game in September, I cannot imagine.
Since Dan Marino’s last year in 1999, fan attendance has been sparse. Part of this is likely due to the heat inside and of course, the play on the field has not been up to Miami standards for quite some time. Some upgrades to the stadium might help bring the people back.
It has been a sad thing to watch what has happened to Dolphins football over the last 15 years. Watching a half empty stadium for regular season games is not Miami Dolphins football. While it is true that there are other factors involved, such as the huge flat screen TVs in people’s living rooms where they can watch every game is HD quality probably keeps many fans home on Sundays. There is also another NFL franchise now on Florida’s East Coast, which gives fans a choice now who live in the middle of the state.
But, the Dolphins are still Florida’s team. Most of us grew up on Dolphins football. With a nice modern stadium and a team that seems to be a playoff caliber team again, perhaps it is time for many of us to go back to Sun Life Stadium.
Graphic via wikipedia