If they build it, will Super Bowls come? Dolphins remodeling Sun Life, hoping for title games



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MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — Sun Life Stadium is currently a mess, and the Miami Dolphins couldn't be happier.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, along with team and political officials led a tour of the stadium in its latest remodeling phase on Friday, standing in one of the end zones as workers in the stands continued the process of ripping out every existing seat and making way for new ones.

Dirt covers much of the field, debris piles are scattered about and the din of construction equipment is constant. When the work is done in 2016, a canopy roof will provide shade, the stadium's capacity will be lessened, the first row of seats will be closer to the sidelines and new video boards will hang — a modernization done in hope of luring Super Bowls back to the area.

"The NFL, let's face it, they want to come to Miami," Ross said. "They recognize it's a great place to have a Super Bowl. We're talking things out and hopefully trying to get it on a regular basis. My goal would be to have at least three to five in the next 20 years."

The Dolphins are hoping to host a Super Bowl again in 2019 or 2020. The Miami area has played host to the Super Bowl 10 times, the last five of those in the Dolphins' current home — but none since 2010, as owners have chosen to award the game to either newer or more amenity-friendly facilities.

The Dolphins hope that won't be an issue going forward. This $350 million project will lower the capacity from about 75,000 to roughly 65,000, provide shade over 92 percent of the seats at kickoff — compared to about 17 percent for some games there now — and give the 28-year-old facility all the bells and whistles it figures to need to measure up to other stadiums.

The canopy roof has been considered a key part of the deal. Fans have long said that even on fall days, the steamy heat and humidity in South Florida can be a drawback from attending either Dolphins or Miami Hurricanes games at Sun Life. The canopy was considered a solution, plus allows the stadium to keep its grass field.

"What better place? This is the best weather in the United States at Super Bowl time," Ross said.

For now, the stadium will retain the Sun Life name, but the team is looking for a new partner for naming rights once the renovations are completed.

Ross, speaking afterward on Dolphins-related matters, said:

— Related to the hiring of former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum as the Dolphins' executive vice president of football operations earlier this month, Ross said "we have an organization and a structure that's going to work. ... Football's a lot more complex game than it used to be." Tannenbaum was at the event Friday, as was general manager Dennis Hickey.

— Ross reiterated that Hickey still has "total control" of the draft and the 53-man roster.

— Ross said he doesn't know if wide receiver Mike Wallace, who didn't play in the second half of the Dolphins' season finale and whose future has been the subject of much speculation since, will be back in 2015. "Next year we need to win," Ross said.

— Ross said the Miami Hurricanes are liking what they've seen from the renovation plan, and that the team will benefit. The Hurricanes did not factor into the decision-making when the renovation plan was being formulated.

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