Hard Rock Stadium is a football stadium located in Miami Gardens, Florida, a city north of Miami. It is the home stadium of the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. Hard Rock Stadium also plays host to the Miami Hurricanes football team during their regular season. In addition, the facility hosts the Orange Bowl, an annual college football bowl game. It was the home to the Florida Marlins of Major League Baseball from 1993 to 2011.
Hard Rock Stadium History
For their first 21 seasons, the Miami Dolphins played at the Orange Bowl. Joe Robbie, the team founder, explained what led to the decision to build a new stadium. In 1976, the city of Miami wanted to quadruple our rent. That did it. I began thinking in earnest about building a stadium. What made the construction of the stadium truly unique was that it was the first multipurpose stadium ever built in the United States that was entirely privately financed.
Robbie also believed it was only a matter of time before a Major League Baseball team came to South Florida. At his request, the stadium was built in a rectangular configuration with a field that was somewhat wider than was normally the case for an NFL stadium. The wide field also made it fairly easy to convert the stadium for soccer.
Because of this design decision, the first row of seats was 90 ft from the sideline in a football configuration, considerably more distant than the first row of seats in most football stadiums. This resulted in a less intimate venue for football compared to other football facilities built around this time, as well as to the Orange Bowl.
The first preseason game for the Dolphins was played on August 16, 1987 against the Chicago Bears. The first regular season game was scheduled for September 27, a week 3 game against the New York Giants; this game was canceled and not made up due to the 1987 players strike. The first regular season NFL game played there was a 42–0 Dolphins victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on October 11, 1987.
The game was in the middle of the 1987 NFL strike, and was played with replacement players. The first game with union players was on October 25 of that year, a 34–31 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills. The stadium hosted its first Monday Night Football game on December 7 of that year, a 37–28 Dolphins victory over the New York Jets.
The Marlins move in
While Joe Robbie Stadium was built primarily for football, its design also accommodated baseball and soccer. Dolphins founder Joe Robbie believed it was a foregone conclusion that MLB would come to South Florida, so he wanted the stadium designed to make any necessary renovations for baseball as seamless as possible.
The new team was named the Florida Marlins, and placed in the National League to begin competing in 1993. This move cost the stadium matches for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, as this June-July tournament conflicted directly with Marlins home games. Orlando’s Citrus Bowl was given World Cup matches Miami would have had to have a presence in Florida’s lucrative market.
Baseball renovations and configurations
After Huizenga bought part of the stadium, it was extensively renovated to accommodate a baseball team at the cost of several million dollars, as part of his successful bid to bring baseball to South Florida. Purists initially feared the result would be similar to Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. When the Toronto Blue Jays played there from 1977 to 1989.
In addition, the upgrades included vastly widened 40,000-square-foot concourses on the stadium’s north and south sides. Bars, lounges and other amenities were also added. The renovation had three phases, with the second and third phases of renovation taking place after the Marlins left the stadium.
A privately funded $350 million stadium renovation project began in January 2015, right after a Monster Jam event. The project plan allowed the stadium to be used for football games during the 2015 season and was completed for the 2016 football season. Stadium upgrades included video boards in each corner of the stadium, additional suites, and an open-air canopy over the main seating areas.
Miami Open tennis tournament
In November 2017, the Miami Open tennis tournament announced that it would move from Crandon Park in Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium in 2019. Its organizers had pursued a $50 million refurbishment of the aging facility, including the addition of three permanent stadium courts. However, the family who originally owned the land filed a lawsuit that blocked their construction, as their agreement to donate the site to Miami-Dade County in 1992 contained a stipulation that only one stadium may be built on the site.
The 65,326 permanent seats for football and soccer configurations break down as follows: For the general 19-inch seats with chair back and armrests, there are 27,397 in the lower deck and 34,736 in the upper deck. There are 10,209 of the bigger club 21-inch seats with chair back and armrests. In the 193 executive suites with 10, 12, 16, 20, and 24 seats, there are a total of 3,198. There are also 300 seating locations for disabled persons, 150 seats for working press, and 10 radio/TV booths.
The stadium has played host to six Super Bowls. There has been a kickoff return for a touchdown in each Super Bowl played at the stadium, except for the two most recent games. The stadium also hosted the 2010 Pro Bowl. Super Bowl XLI in 2007 at Dolphin Stadium, when the Indianapolis Colts defeated Chicago Bears 29–17, was marred by heavy rains. An estimated 30% of the lower-level seating was empty during the second half.
In 2010, the NFL threatened to take the stadium out of further consideration for a Super Bowl or Pro Bowl unless significant renovations were made. One of the upgrades desired was a roof to protect fans from the elements. In 2012, the Dolphins scrapped plans for pitching a $200-million hotel tax proposal that would have included a partial stadium roof.
The stadium has hosted both the 2009 BCS National Championship Game and the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. The 2013 game between Alabama and Notre Dame set a new attendance record for the facility, with 80,120 on hand to witness Alabama’s third BCS Championship in four seasons. The stadium has hosted the Miami Hurricanes beginning in 2008. The stadium was the home field for the Florida Atlantic Owls.
A number of soccer matches have been held in the stadium, including a number of international friendlies featuring Central or South American sides. The stadium hosted a match between FC Barcelona and C.D. Guadalajara on August 3, 2011, as part of the 2011 World Football Challenge. Guadalajara won the match, 4–1, in front of 70,080 attendees.