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.
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
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.
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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."