When fans for the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricanes cheer their teams this fall, they will probably pay more attention to the structure they are in than the teams because the New Miami Stadium will be an incredible change from the old facility.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is spending about $450 million for renovations to the stadium that will truly make it a world-class sports facility. Early reports had that amount at $300. You can tell he is going all in on this bet.
Details of New Miami Stadium facelift
Here are some of the major improvements taking place at the 27-year old facility:
- Enormous 14-acre canopy. If you ever sat in the sun in Dolphin stadium in September or even October under a sizzling Florida sun, this feature alone will be worth its weight in cool air. The Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said the canopy will place 92% of all seats in the shade. The center will be still be open (remember the old Dallas Cowboys stadium?) to keep the real turf green. For diehard fan in the bleachers in the upper levels, that canopy will be a welcome new experience for them and a great incentive to fill those sparsely filled seats.
- The sound will be intense. There's another benefit to that 672,000 sq. ft. canopy – it will push all the noise from the crowds back down onto the field. This year, Patriots Tom Brady won't even be able to hear himself think, let alone bark commands. This is a new development in stadium construction and NFL competitiveness– the design of the Seattle Seahawks stadium is famous for this.
- Rain shelter. For those afternoon deluges of rain from all that heat, now's there's cover as well. Except for the players on the field, naturally.
- Every seat will be changed. Dolphin personnel say they have replaced EVERY seat in the stadium for spectators. The old orange seating is out, the new seating is Dolphin teal blue. Some of the seats are padded and widened. Every seat is different – that's incredible.
- Closer to the field. Not only will the seats be wider, but sideline seats will now be 24 feet closer to the field. (That was always one of the drawbacks of the stadium as it was built for both football and baseball which made an odd configuration.)
- Four enormous high-def video screens in each corner. This is a must for any mega-stadium and the New Miami Stadium will certainly deliver. These screens are 1,472 in size – now that's a big screen TV. The biggest for any stadium in the AFC East by the way.
- Plenty of new bars – 300 of them.
- New LED lighting system.
- New audio system.
- Reduction in the number of seats from 76,000 to 65,000. That's something you never see in stadium renovations. But it will enhance the experience for those fans who do make it to the games.
"Steve Ross has made a commitment to ensuring that the stadium is going to be best-in-class, global entertainment destination, that the Dolphins will be here for a long time and that Dolphins fans will have as good an experience as anybody else in the NFL in terms of the venue that they go to," said Dolphins president and CEO Tom Garfinkel.
That investment has already paid off – New Miami Stadium will host the LIV Super Bowl in 2020. That's an enormous economic payoff, not only for the Dolphins, but all of South Florida as well.
Garfinkel says the stadium also hopes to attract college football championship bowl games, plus festivals and concerts. There's also soccer and the ultimate prize – the World Cup, which is on their radar.
This is the era of super-stadiums – the Dallas Cowboys built one. Atlanta Falcons and the Minneapolis Vikings are building billion-dollar stadiums. The St. Louis Rams recently left town to build a mega-stadium in Los Angeles.
Considering the billion-dollar price tags on these new facilities, Ross' investment in a makeover instead of a building a new stadium seems pretty smart.
By the way, there's some buzz out there that the new stadium won't be done in time for the start of the 2016 football season. Who cares? This new facility is a whopper and absolutely worth the wait.
A first-rate facility in any town will attract other events and regional tournaments and playoffs.
Ross and the Dolphins obviously see the value in creating an incredible fan experience.