Dolphin Stadium

Dolphin Stadium

Sun Life Stadium
Sun Life Stadium logo
Former names Joe Robbie Stadium (1987–1996)
Pro Player Park (1996)
Pro Player Stadium (1996–2005)
Dolphins Stadium (2005–2006)
Dolphin Stadium (2006–2009)[1]
Land Shark Stadium (2009–2010)
Location 2269 NW 199th Street
Miami Gardens, Florida
United States
Coordinates

25°57′29″N 80°14′20″W / 25.95806°N 80.23889°W / 25.95806; -80.23889Coordinates: 25°57′29″N 80°14′20″W / 25.95806°N 80.23889°W / 25.95806; -80.23889

Broke ground December 1, 1985
Opened August 16, 1987
Owner Stephen M. Ross (95%)
H. Wayne Huizenga (5%)[2]
Operator Miami Dolphins
Surface Prescription Athletic Turf (Natural Grass)
Construction cost $115 million
($239 million in 2014 dollars[3])
Architect HOK Sport
Project manager George A. Fuller Company[4]
Structural engineer Bliss and Nyitray, Inc.
Services engineer Blum Consulting Engineers
General contractor Huber, Hunt & Nichols[5]
Capacity 80,120 (2013 BCS National Championship Game)
78,363 (WrestleMania XXVIII)
74,918 (Soccer)
47,662 (1993 baseball)*
42,531 (2001 baseball)*
35,531 (2003 baseball)*
36,331 (2006 baseball)*
38,560 (2008 baseball)
*Expandable to approximately 67,000
Field dimensions Left field – 330 ft / 100.6 m
Left-center field – 361 ft / 110 m
Center field – 404 ft / 123.1 m
Right-center field – 385 ft / 117,3 m
Right field – 345 ft / 105.1 m
Backstop – 58 ft / 17.7 m
Tenants
Miami Dolphins (NFL) (1987–present)
University of Miami Hurricanes (NCAA) (2008–present)
Discover Orange Bowl (NCAA) (1996–1998) (2000–present)
Florida Marlins (MLB) (1993–2011)
Champs Sports Bowl (NCAA) (1990–2000)
Florida Atlantic Owls (NCAA) (2001–2002)

Sun Life Stadium is an American football stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, a suburb of Miami. It is the home stadium of the Miami Dolphins National Football League team, and the University of Miami Hurricanes football team. It also hosts the Orange Bowl, an annual college football bowl game. It was the home to the Florida Marlins baseball team from 1993 to 2011. Originally named Joe Robbie Stadium, it has also been known as Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, and Land Shark Stadium.

Since its construction, the stadium has hosted five Super Bowls (XXIII, XXIX, XXXIII, XLI and XLIV), two World Series (1997 and 2003), four BCS National Championship Games (2001, 2005, 2009, 2013). The stadium served as host for the second round of the 2009 World Baseball Classic, WrestleMania XXVIII, and hosted the 2010 Pro Bowl.[6]

On January 18, 2010, the Miami Dolphins signed a five-year deal with Sun Life Financial to rename Dolphin Stadium to Sun Life Stadium. The deal is worth $7.5 million per year for five years (a total of $37.5 million).[7]

History

Conception and construction

Joe Robbie, founder of the Miami Dolphins, led the financing campaign to build a new home for his team. For their first 20 years, the Dolphins played at the Orange Bowl.


Robbie believed it was only a matter of time before a Major League Baseball team came to South Florida. At his request, the stadium was built so only minimal renovations would be necessary to ready it for a baseball team. Most notably, the field was made somewhat wider than is normally the case for an NFL stadium. The wide field also makes it fairly easy to convert the stadium for soccer.

Because of this design decision, the first row of seats is 90 feet (27 m) from the sideline in a football configuration, considerably more distant than the first row of seats in most football stadiums (the closest seats at the new Soldier Field, for instance, are 55 feet (17 m) from the sideline at the 50-yard line). This resulted in a less intimate venue for football compared to other football facilities built around this time, as well as to the Orange Bowl.

Dolphins

The first regular season NFL game played there was a 42–0 Dolphins victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on October 11, 1987. The game was in the middle of the 1987 NFL strike, and was played with replacement players. The stadium hosted its first Monday Night Football game there on December 7 of that year, a 37–28 Dolphins victory over the New York Jets. In addition to the Super Bowl, several other playoff games have been played in the stadium, including the 1992 AFC Championship Game, which the Dolphins lost to the Buffalo Bills, 29–10. The Dolphins are 5–3 in playoff games held here, losing the most recent one in January, 2009, against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Marlins move in

In 1990, Wayne Huizenga purchased 50 percent of then-Joe Robbie Stadium and became the point man in the drive to bring Major League Baseball to South Florida. That effort was rewarded in July 1991, when the Miami area was awarded an MLB expansion franchise. The new team was named the Florida Marlins, and placed in the National League. On January 24, 1994, Huizenga acquired the remaining 50 percent of the stadium to give him 100% ownership. Since 1991, several million dollars have been spent to upgrade and renovate the stadium.

The first Marlins game played at then-Joe Robbie Stadium was on April 5, 1993, a 6–3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Renovations and configurations

After Huizenga bought part of the stadium, it was extensively renovated to accommodate a baseball team, as part of his successful bid to bring baseball to South Florida. Purists initially feared the result would be similar to Exhibition Stadium in Toronto; when the Toronto Blue Jays played there from 1977 to 1989, they were burdened with seats that were so far from the field (over 800 feet in some cases) that they weren't even sold during the regular season. However, Robbie had foreseen Miami would be a likely location for a new or relocated MLB team, and the stadium was designed to make any necessary renovations for baseball as seamless as possible.


Aside from baseball renovations, the stadium has undergone some permanent renovations. In April 2006, the stadium unveiled two Daktronics large video boards, the largest in professional sports at the time.[8] The east display measures 50 feet (15 m) high by 140 feet (43 m) wide, and the west end zone display measures 50 feet (15 m) high by 100 feet (30 m) wide. A new 2,118-foot (646 m)-long LED ribbon board, again the largest in the world at the time, was also installed. These have since been surpassed in size.[8]

In addition, the upgrades include vastly widened 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) concourses on the stadium’s north and south sides. Bars, lounges and other amenities have also been added. The renovation has three phases, the first has been completed; the second and third phases of renovation will take place after the Marlins move from the stadium. These remaining phases include the addition of a roof to shield fans from the rain, as well as remodeling the sidelines of the lower bowl to narrow the field and bring seats closer, ending its convertibility to baseball.[9]

The stadium contains 10,209 club seats and 216 suites. When the Marlins played at the stadium, 2,400 of the club seats and 216 suites were available.

Seating capacity

Notable events

NFL

The stadium has played host to five Super Bowls (1989, 1995, 1999, 2007, and 2010). There has been a kickoff return for a touchdown in each Super Bowl played at the stadium, except in the most recent game. The stadium also hosted the 2010 Pro Bowl.


The NFL is threatening to take Sun Life Stadium out of further consideration for a Super Bowl or Pro Bowl unless significant renovations are made. One of the upgrades desired was a roof to protect fans from the elements. The 2007 Super Bowl at Dolphin Stadium — when Indianapolis defeated Chicago 29–17 — was marred by heavy rains. An estimated 30 percent of the lower-level seating was empty during the second half.[10]

The Dolphins have already scrapped plans for pitching a $200-million hotel tax proposal that would have included a partial stadium roof. With the end zones facing east and west, the uncovered north side of the stadium bakes in the south Florida sun. The issue has become so problematic that Stephen Ross, who owns the Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium, successfully petitioned the NFL to have all September home games start at 4 pm. Although the heat gave the Dolphins a substantial home-field advantage against opponents unaccustomed to the sweltering heat, Ross was willing to give that up in order to ensure a more comfortable environment for fans.[11]

NCAA

Sun Life Stadium has hosted both the 2009 BCS National Championship Game, and the 2013 BCS National Championship Game.[12] The 2013 game between Alabama and Notre Dame set a new attendance record for the facility, with 80,120 on hand to witness Alabama's third BCS Championship in four seasons.[13]

The stadium has hosted the Miami Hurricanes beginning in 2008. The stadium was the home field for the Florida Atlantic Owls (2001–2002).

Between 1990 and 2000, the stadium hosted a bowl game variously known as the Blockbuster Bowl, CarQuest Bowl, and MicronPC Bowl. After 2000, that bowl was moved to Orlando, where it eventually became known as the Champs Sports Bowl.

The stadium has been the site of the Orange Bowl game since 1996, except for the January 1999 contest between Florida and Syracuse, which had to be moved due to a conflict with a Dolphins playoff game.

Until 2008, the stadium was host biennially to the yearly Shula Bowl, a game played between Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University, when the game was hosted by FAU as the home team. (FIU hosts the game at its own stadium, FIU Stadium, every other year.)


Baseball

Two National League Division Series have been played at Sun Life Stadium.

Two National League Championship Series have been played at Sun Life Stadium.

Two World Series have been played at Sun Life Stadium.

When the Marlins began play in 1993, baseball capacity was initially reduced to 47,662, with most of the upper level covered with a tarp. In addition to Huizenga's desire create a more intimate atmosphere for baseball, most of the seats in the upper level would have been too far from the field to be of any use during the regular season. The stadium's baseball capacity has been further reduced over the years, and finally settled at 38,560 seats. However, the Marlins would usually open the entire upper level for the postseason. In the 1997 World Series, the Marlins played before crowds of over 67,000 fans—the highest postseason attendance figures in MLB history, only exceeded by Cleveland Stadium, home of the Cleveland Indians during the 1948 World Series, old Yankee Stadium prior to its mid 1970s renovation, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the temporary home of the Los Angeles Dodgers (before Dodger Stadium was opened) in the 1959 World Series.

Although it was designed from the ground up to accommodate baseball, Sun Life Stadium is not a true multipurpose stadium. Rather, it is a football stadium that could convert into a baseball stadium. Most of the seats in the baseball configuration were pointed toward center field – where the 50-yard line would be in the football configuration. That meant the sight lines were not as good for baseball even with the reduced capacity. This was particularly evident during the Marlins' World Series appearances in 1997 and 2003. Some portions of left and center field were not part of the football playing field, and fans sitting in the left field upper-deck seats were unable to see these areas except on the replay boards. Even when the reduced capacity, during years the Marlins weren't contending they often drew crowds of 5,000 or fewer—a total that looked even smaller due to the cavernous environment.

The stadium was notorious for its poor playing conditions. The lights were not located in optimal positions for baseball visibility. During August and September, when the Dolphins (and later, the Hurricanes) shared the stadium, the field conditions were, according to both Marlins and visiting players, among the worst in the majors. Indeed, several Marlins players said that at times, they "couldn't wait to go on the road." Visiting teams hated coming to the stadium as well. For instance, when the Atlanta Braves came to the stadium for the last time in 2011, Dan Uggla, who played for the Marlins from 2006 to 2010, said that he was probably the only Brave who was going to miss it.[14][15][16] The stadium's problems as a baseball venue became even more stark as time wore on, as the Marlins' tenure in the stadium coincided with a wave of new, baseball-only parks. By the time the Marlins left the stadium, it was one of only three in the majors (and the only National League stadium) that played host to both a baseball team and an NFL or CFL team. The others were Oakland's O.co Coliseum and Toronto's Rogers Centre.

For most of the Marlins' tenure at the stadium, it was the hottest stadium in the major leagues. The Marlins usually played all of their home games from late May through mid-September at night due to South Florida's often oppressive heat. They also got waivers from MLB and ESPN to play on Sunday nights.

The stadium was the venue where Ken Griffey, Jr. hit his 600th career home run off Mark Hendrickson of the Florida Marlins on June 9, 2008; and where Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history on May 29, 2010 against the Marlins.

Concerts

American rock band Guns N' Roses performed a New Year's Eve show on December 31, 1991.

The first concert of The Division Bell Tour by the English rock band Pink Floyd was performed in this stadium on March 30, 1994, which would turn out to be the final Pink Floyd tour.

American pop artist Madonna performed during her Sticky and Sweet Tour on November 26, 2008, in front of a sold-out audience of 48,000. Timbaland and Pharrell Williams joined her onstage during two songs.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney performed at the stadium during his Up and Coming Tour on April 3, 2010.

Irish rock band U2 performed at the stadium on June 29, 2011 during their U2 360° Tour, in front of a sold out crowd of 72,569 people. The show was originally scheduled for July 9, 2010, but was postponed, due to Bono's emergency back surgery. The concert forced the Marlins' interleague series with the Seattle Mariners, originally scheduled to be played at Sun Life Stadium the previous weekend, to move to Safeco Field in Seattle.

American hip hop group The Black Eyed Peas performed during their The Beginning Tour tour on November 23, 2011.

Justin Timberlake and Jay Z performed the last performance of the Legends of the Summer Staduim Tour on August 16, 2013.

Soccer

Sun Life Stadium hosted a match between FC Barcelona and C.D. Guadalajara on August 3, 2011, as part of the 2011 World Football Challenge. Guadalajara won the match 4–1 in front of 70,080 attendees.[17]

AC Milan and Chelsea faced each other at the stadium on July 28, 2012. AC Milan won the match 1 to 0 in front of 57,748 fans.[18]

Colombia beat Mexico 2-0 in a friendly international in front of 51,615 spectators at the stadium on 29 February 2012, and a year later they beat Guatemala 4-1.

Free Kick Masters™ 2013 Tournament and Entertainment Spectacular will be held at the Sun Life Stadium on 28 December 2013.

Wrestling

Sun Life Stadium set a new attendance record when the WWE's biggest pay-per-view, Wrestlemania XXVIII, came to town. A crowd of 78,000+ was in attendance. The crowd witnessed the End of an Era as The Undertaker defeated Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match, with WWE Hall of Famer, Shawn Michaels as special guest referee. Also, CM Punk retained the WWE Championship against Chris Jericho. Miami native The Rock defeated John Cena in the 'Once in a Lifetime' main event set one year in advance. This WWE PPV was, at the time, the highest grossing event in WWE history.

Other events

Other events held at the stadium have included international football games, monster truck shows, Hoop-It-Up Basketball, RV and boat shows, the UniverSoul Circus, Australian rules football exhibition matches, and numerous trade shows. It has even hosted religious gatherings, most notably a visit by Pope John Paul II.

In 2006, it hosted the High School State Football Championships, sanctioned by the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA). Movies have also been shot there, most notably Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which starred Jim Carrey and featured Dolphins great Dan Marino as himself; Marley and Me, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston; and the Oliver Stone-directed Any Given Sunday, starring Al Pacino.

Naming rights

The stadium has gone through many name changes, bringing up the overall question of the value of corporate naming rights.[19]

Initially, Dolphins Stadium was named after Joe Robbie, the original and then-owner of the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins were the stadium's primary tenant at the time.

In the early 1990s, Wayne Huizenga gained control of the stadium. Huizenga first sold the naming rights to Pro Player, the sports apparel division of Fruit of the Loom, and Joe Robbie Stadium became Pro Player Stadium on August 26, 1996.

Fruit of the Loom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1999, and the Pro Player brand was ultimately liquidated in 2001, but the stadium name held for several more years. In January 2005, the Pro Player name was replaced with Dolphins Stadium, coinciding with a renovation of the stadium. Dolphins was changed to Dolphin in April 2006, in an update of graphics and logos.[20]

From February 2008 through January 2009, Stephen M. Ross gradually acquired 95% of the stadium and surrounding land. He then partnered with Jimmy Buffett to change the name once more, this time to Land Shark Stadium. The renaming was announced on May 9, 2009, but would last less than a year as the deal did not include rights for the upcoming 2010 Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIV.[21]

On January 20, 2010, Canadian life insurance firm Sun Life Financial officially announced that they had acquired the naming rights, and the name of the stadium became Sun Life Stadium.[22]

Sun Life Stadium may have yet another name in 2015, as Sun Life Financial announced in 2011—only a year into the current contract—that it will not be selling life insurance in the United States anymore.[23]

References

External links

  • Sun Life Stadium - Hurricanesports.com
  • Sun Life Stadium Seating Charts