The Miami Dolphins no longer have their name on the stadium in which they play. But very soon, the stadium itself will look much different than it has since it was built way back in the 1980′s. Many fans will tell you that “Sun-Life Stadium” is a dump. They are wrong. Don’t listen to them…they like to whine. The stadium actually is in great shape. The south Florida weather keeps the stadium from aging like other stadiums further north that endure extreme weather changes.
The truth is that the stadium only needs a major face lift. The foundation is secure and the structure is in great condition. What it lacks is what has fans bemoaning it’s state. A true home field advantage. That’s going to change. Soon. Very soon. The stadium was built by then Dolphins owner Joe Robbie. Privately funded and designed to hold not only football but baseball as well.
The removal of seating sections to accommodate the Marlins moved Dolphins fans further away from the field. By doing so, the Dolphins have the furthest from the field seating in all of the NFL. As part of the changes coming to Sun-Life, that is going to be a major change. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross today vowed that the seating will change.
The plan has been in place for a couple of years and we here at PhinPhanatic.com broke the first images of the proposed changes back when the stadium officials were trying to wrangle a World Cup bid. Today, officially those images were revealed as the project at hand. Most Dolphins fans will love to see the new stadium renovations while the local Miami populace will ask where the money is coming from. Ross laid out a six point plan that takes the tax payers money out of the equation.
1. Approach this partnership differently than any other by investing more, pledging more, and returning more to the community and fans;
2. Ensure that private funding pays for the majority of stadium construction costs;
3. Not request a tax increase for Miami-Dade residents;
4. Create thousands of local jobs by hiring contractors, subcontractors, and vendors from Miami-Dade;
5. Create a world-class facility with improved sight lines, seats closer to the field, and an electric environment for the Dolphins, Hurricanes, bowl games, and international soccer;
6. Secure the future of the franchise by committing the Dolphins to play at a modernized Sun Life Stadium through at least 2034.
Many fans will scoff at the notion that this stadium can last another 23 years which would surely make it the oldest played in stadium in the NFL. As mentioned above the stadium doesn’t wear down the same as others in pro-sports given it’s lack of seasonal changes.
So what will the changes mean to the fans who attend the games? For starters, the seating capacity in the upper bowl will likely be reduced to allow for the implementation of four screens that would sit in the four corners. The stadium currently has the largest number of seats located in the upper bowl and they are not easy to sell through. One of the reasons that the upper bowl is hard to sell is the extreme heat and direct sunlight. That too is about to change.
A full canopy will be implemented around the upper bowl that will shade the fans from the direct sunlight as well as protect against the seasonal and often quick thunderstorms. The canopy however is not a dome and the field of play will still be open to the natural south Florida elements. While the canopy will not bring relief to opposing teams, it will make it a bit harder. The design will act as an audio amplifier as well.
Currently the open air stadium allows the vocal cheering to escape out of the wide open stadium. The introduction of the canopy will help to redirect some of that noise back towards the field generating a more “home-field” advantage. Of course the team needs to put a winning product on the field as well.
The changes to the stadium will also add the following:
• More comfortable seats;
• New seating closer to the field;
• State-of-the art HD video screens;
• An open-air canopy that shields fans from elements while preserving the natural grass playing surface;
• HD sports lighting;
• Modern escalators and elevators for fan transportation; and
• Updated kitchens for better concession options.
The stadium officials realize that there is a year long opportunity for the stadium itself. With both the Dolphins and Hurricanes tying up the fall and early winter months, the summer months are void of occupants and after the college bowl season the use of the stadium is relegated more towards the occasional concert event. Stephen Ross and company are trying to change that.
With these stadium renovations, they will be able to secure not only future Super Bowls but also soccer, tennis, and other sporting events. The reality is that Stephen Ross realizes that it is going to take a lot to get fans back to the stadium. With the Dolphins approaching free agency with upwards of 45 million dollars and a draft stock that is enticing fans into speculation, Ross is taking care of the business he can control on the stadium side of the team.
While no immediate timeline to the start of construction was laid out during today’s press conference, the Dolphins are expected to move quickly this off-season to begin implementing some of the changes. Including the additional seating according to rumor. The full body of changes are expected to be completed in time for the 2016 Super Bowl which would mean prior to the start of the 2015 season. The Dolphins, specifically Stephen Ross and CEO Mike Dee will need to move quick in order to secure the 50th Super Bowl. They are currently in a two team race with the city of San Francisco who appears at the moment to have the lead in the bidding race.
Without the ability to secure future Super Bowls, the Dolphins will lose out on millions of income for the city that is generated each year the event is held. The stadium renovations will not only increase the comfort for Dolphins fans but ensure that the city of Miami remains a top destination spot for major sporting events for years to come.
While no direct taxation on the Miami citizens will occur, a hotel “bed tax” of 1% will likely be implemented as well as some tax rebates in order to fund the upgrades. Ross will invest close to 50% of the upfront costs.
For more images of the designed changes, click here.