Miami leaving Orange Bowl, will play in Dolphin Stadium

Updated: August 21, 2007, 9:25 PM ET
Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The Orange Bowl hosted a dozen games that decided college football's national championship, five Super Bowls and a speech by John F. Kennedy.

Tale of Two Stadiums

The Miami Hurricanes will begin playing their home games at Dolphin Stadium, beginning with the 2008 season. A look at their new home compared to their old home.

Dolphin Stadium Orange Bowl
Opened Aug. 16, 1987 Dec. 10, 1937
Football capacity 76,500 72,319
Playing surface Grass Prescription Athletic Turf
Facts Home to NFL's Miami Dolphins and MLB's Florida Marlins. Primary tenant after Dolphins moved, Canes won three national titles on field and at one time had 58-game home winning streak.

Miami football called it home for seven decades -- but after this year, no more.

The Hurricanes will play at Dolphin Stadium starting in 2008, leaving the historic but decaying Orange Bowl in what university president Donna Shalala called "a painful and sad decision." University trustees voted to make the move Tuesday, despite the offer of $206 million by city officials to renovate one of Miami's best-known landmarks.

With the Hurricanes set to depart, the Orange Bowl will no longer have a primary tenant -- putting the building's future in serious doubt. Some believe demolition may be an option, and the site has also been mentioned as a possible home for the Florida Marlins, who want a baseball-only facility.

"If they don't have a use for it, I'm sure they'll do something else with it," Miami athletic director Paul Dee said.

Miami agreed to a 25-year lease and could collect more than $2 million in additional revenue annually by moving to Dolphin Stadium, which will carry a new corporate-sponsored name by 2010.

Shalala indicated that the choice to leave the Orange Bowl was difficult, saying afterward, "I didn't want to do it."

"We really tried and I hope our fans understand that we really tried," Shalala said. "That said, the decision itself, given what our options were, was not that complicated."

Miami first played at the Orange Bowl in 1937. The Hurricanes won three national championship games on that field, had a NCAA-record 58-game home winning streak from 1985 through 1994 and have drawn more than 17 million fans there over the years.

But the stadium's facade is rusting, upgrades are needed and the building lacks many amenities modern stadiums have -- such as the luxury suites and video replay screens that helped lure Miami to the Dolphins' home.

Orange Bowl
Robert Sullivan/Getty ImagesThe Orange Bowl will be the home of the Hurricanes for one more season.

"When you look back at the history and all that we have done in that stadium and all that's been accomplished there, frankly, it was accomplished by a group of people on the field," Dee said. "It was accomplished by a group of people in the stands. The Orange Bowl never scored a touchdown. The Orange Bowl never cheered. It was the people that were there."

Miami's first game in Dolphin Stadium -- which is undergoing $300 million worth of expansion and renovations -- is scheduled for Aug. 30, 2008, against North Texas, but Dee said the school is working to bring a different opponent in for the opener.

The Orange Bowl hosted a famous speech by Kennedy to Cuban exiles after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, along with concerts, boxing and even Olympic soccer matches in 1996. Miami has won nearly 70 percent of its games there, bolstered by raucous crowds.

"It got to be very tough to hear and tough to communicate down there. That's what made it difficult," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said.

Dolphin Stadium owner Wayne Huizenga said he hopes the move "continues the storied football legacy of UM," and Dolphins coach Cam Cameron was pleased.

"There are no negatives from our end," Cameron said.

Soon after the Hurricanes made their announcement, city officials, including Mayor Manny Diaz and city manager Pete Hernandez turned attention toward wooing the Marlins to the Orange Bowl site.

"I think the Orange Bowl would be a great site for the Marlins," Diaz said.

The Marlins -- whose lease at Dolphin Stadium ends in 2010 -- said they would "continue to work diligently" with city and county officials on a stadium plan, adding "the urgency of this situation has been further crystallized by today's decision by the University of Miami."

The city's stadium refurbishment plan was met with skepticism by some within the university, since much of the money would have come from grants and tax credits that haven't been secured.

Shalala called the city's effort "extraordinary," but wondered if remodeling was worthwhile.

"Is it appropriate for the University of Miami, a private university, to ask the people, the taxpayers of the city, to spend $200 million on six games a year?" Shalala asked.

Ultimately, that answer was no.

Some fans lobbied until the end, with more than 4,000 signing an online petition imploring the Hurricanes to stay put, and others organizing rallies in hope of getting trustees to change their mind.

"A lot of people say moving to Dolphin Stadium, you won't get the fan support," Miami coach Randy Shannon said. "But if you're truly a University of Miami fan, you're going to come. Fans are going to be there. We just have to give them a product."

Miami's last scheduled game at the Orange Bowl is Nov. 10 against Virginia.

"We can't live in yesterday's success," said Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin, a former Miami standout. "We have to move forward to tomorrow's success."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press