While there is no indication that either event is headed here soon, team president Tom Garfinkel said the Dolphins are pursuing both.
“We want to bring as many great events as we can to Miami, so we’ll bid on everything that’s available,” he said.
The Pro Bowl was in Hawaii for 30 years before the Dolphins hosted it in 2010. That year and 2015, the NFL held the Pro Bowl at the Super Bowl site.
The league moved it to Orlando starting in 2017 and will play the third year of that deal at the end of the upcoming season. There has been no indication what the NFL will do beyond that.
The draft has also been jumping around the country since ending a 50-year run in New York. Chicago hosted it in 2015 and ’16, Philadelphia had it last year and it will be at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium next month.
The NFL has not awarded the 2019 draft, and the Dolphins would like to be considered.
“We put our name in the hat for all those things,” Garfinkel said.
The team is also looking to land 2026 men’s World Cup matches if a North American bid including the U.S., Canada and Mexico wins hosting rights.
That aside, Hard Rock Stadium is already set for several big events in addition to being the home field for the Dolphins and Hurricanes, the permanent site of the Orange Bowl (it’s a national semifinal this season) and the venue for the Miami Open tennis tournament beginning next year.
The 2020 Super Bowl is headed to Miami Gardens as a direct result of the hundreds of millions of dollars Stephen Ross put into the stadium, and college football’s National Championship Game is coming in 2021.
MIAMI GARDENS—When the Miami Open and Crandon Park arrived at an irreconcilable dispute over renovating the facility, it looked like the tennis tournament would be leaving after more than three decades as a premier sporting event in South Florida.
That was the genesis of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ dream, though. He’s always been intent on expanding Hard Rock Stadium into more than a football venue, and he hated the idea of the tournament relocating to another area. It didn’t take long for him to combine those two interests and pitch the Miami Open on moving to his property.
“I thought Steve was crazy,” Serena Williams said. “But Steve is a visionary.”
Ross, Williams and other key figures in the project were at the stadium this morning for a ground-breaking ceremony, and the tournament will debut on Hard Rock Stadium’s premises next March.
The main court will be a temporary structure on the football field, but the rest of the design is the real gem of the project. Everything Ross plans to build on what is currently parking space could make the stadium even more attractive as it bids for future Super Bowls and College Football Playoff games.
The Dolphins are already scheduled to host the Super Bowl in 2020 (Super Bowl LIV) and the National Championship Game in 2021 and will continue pursuing those events as often as possible.
The Super Bowl is of the utmost importance and almost certainly wouldn’t be returning to South Florida if not for the $500 million Ross put into stadium renovations. This will be the first one since 2010, when the Saints beat the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
“We’re working on it, yeah,” Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel said of chasing future hosting rights. “We want to get one every chance we get. It’s very competitive, and we’re going to work to get as many as we can. We hope that everybody has such a great experience in 2020 that they want to bring more back.”
The upcoming Super Bowl will be in Atlanta’s new stadium, and the game goes to Tampa in 2021 and Los Angeles the year after. The next Super Bowl open for bids is the February 2023 game.
The next opening to host the college title game is 2024.
From 1968 through 2010, the Super Bowl was in South Florida on average about every four years and the next one will give the area an NFL-high 11 times hosting the game. The current gap between Super Bowl XLIV and LIV is the longest since the ‘80s.
The Miami Open might help. The tournament’s move necessitates a 6,000-seat grandstand and 28 other permanent tennis courts being built on the south side of the property. There are also plans for a large promenade that connects to the stadium and can be used for a variety of purposes, including entertainment and dining.
In addition to those more involved projects outside the stadium, the Dolphins are still tweaking the inside of the building. There won’t be any hugely noticeable renovations for the upcoming season, but the team still has subtle upgrades on its to-do list.
“There’s a lot of little things that we’re doing to continue to improve on, so I wouldn’t call it one big thing to showcase, but as we go around, people will notice a lot of little improvements,” Garfinkel said. “We’re fine-tuning a lot of things.”
“Steve really wants—If you walk around the stadium and see things that still don’t look like they’re brand new, we want to make them look brand new. There might be a floor that didn’t get redone and still looks old. Certain things that still look old, we’re gonna enhance them.”
The construction of tennis-related features could be an inconvenience during the upcoming season for the Dolphins and Hurricanes, but the team expects to smooth all of that out by early next year. The overall plan also includes resurfacing and upgrading the outer parking lots and putting in pedestrian bridges and tunnels connecting them to the stadium block.
The promenade has the versatility to accommodate all kinds of advertiser and fan needs for big events, and the grandstand stadium can easily be reconfigured for concerts and other activities.
All of those amenities could be a selling point for the Dolphins when they present plans for Super Bowls, and they’ll get a chance to put all of it on display two years from now.
“For sure,” Garfinkel said. “If you look at the south plaza that’s being created with fountains and landscaping, the whole area, the actual competition court… There’s a way to use it for Super Bowl and other big events like that that enhances the whole experience pre-game.”
That’s the coalescence Ross imagined when bringing the Miami Open to Hard Rock Stadium first became a possibility.
“What we do here in Miami, I think, will set the tone for the future of great sports,” he said. “It’s really about how you treat the fans and giving the great experience that they’re looking for.
“My objective was really to make Miami the sports capital and bring great events to Miami. We have all this land, and I figured there had to be a way to do it. We got the designers involved, and I don’t think you can have a venue like this. It’s going to be like no other.”
MIAMI GARDENS—The grand plans to bring the Miami Open tennis tournament to Hard Rock Stadium look spectacular. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ vision to create a world-class sports venue is coming together, and if the actual facility looks close to the renderings on display at this morning’s ground breaking ceremony, it’ll be impressive.
But tennis is still the secondary purpose of this venue, and as the tournament proceeds toward a 2019 relocation from Key Biscayne, there are concerns about how the renovations will impact Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes home football games.
Parking is a chief issue. In addition to the main court inside the stadium, which will be built over the visiting sideline, there will be a permanent 6,000-seat grandstand court and 28 others built in the south parking lots. There’s also a large, triangular plaza being built that runs up to the south side of the stadium.
“First of all, in the future you’re not going to worry about it,” Ross said, half-jokingly. “You’re gonna have self-driving cars.
“But we’ve lowered the amount of seats we have in the stadium from 75,000 to 65,000, so we had excess parking to start with. I don’t think it will impact the parking at all.”
This gives you an idea of the location and scale for the main Miami Open court in this facility. Will use existing luxury seating on NFL visiting sideline and build temporary seating in the other three directions. pic.twitter.com/tv39B4C2JA
When the project is finished, that might be the case. In the meantime, though, the parking situation won’t be quite perfect for the Dolphins and UM this season.
The Dolphins have long had plans in the works to build pedestrian bridges and tunnels connecting the outer parking lots to the main part of the property, but those won’t be finished until March 2019. There are also plans to repave the outer lots prior to the upcoming season.
Some parts of the tennis facility, including practice courts, will be used for parking at football games and other sections can be converted to parking areas temporarily.
“We do lose some parking spaces right up next to the stadium,” Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel said. “We’re working on a plan to accommodate the fans who are displaced.
“We had ample parking for 75,000 and now we’re down to 65,000 seats. We lose some parking, but we still have plenty of parking and we’re planning on making the parking lots nicer and more accessible to everybody.”
For the Miami Open, it’s a massive increase from 5,447 fan parking spaces to 17,459.
PHOENIX—Dolphins owner Stephen Ross isn’t trying to steal the Miami Open from Key Biscayne. He just wants it to stay in South Florida.
As tension mounts over the possibility of upgrades to Crandon Park, Ross is exploring the construction of a tennis venue on Hard Rock Stadium’s property. He said today a facility could be built within a year, and the main court matches would theoretically be held inside the stadium.
“If it’s an alternative between staying on Key Biscayne or leaving, I wanted to present them a position that I thought it could work at our stadium,” Ross said.
“It would take advantage of the stadium renovations. We spent a lot of money there. It’s really become an entertainment capital between what we’re doing with soccer and other entertainment acts and football. What we’re doing there, you guys haven’t seen the completed product. It’s in process now and it’s going to be incredible. It’s going to be a real showcase.”
The Miami Open, which is being played now through April 2, has been hosted by Key Biscayne since 1987. Most of the top tennis players in the world participate if healthy, and the tournament has been considered on par with the grand slam events.
According to the Associated Press, there is speculation that Miami could lose the event to a South American or Chinese site.
“We’re just exploring it,” Ross said. “If they can stay on Key Biscayne, they’d probably prefer to stay on Key Biscayne. I think this is a great alternative. I also think it’s important to the people in Miami that they don’t lose the tournament somewhere else.
“That’s really what’s key—just like they lost the (World Golf Championship) somewhere else. We’re looking to do what’s good for South Florida. You can see by the stadium what we’ve done and the activity we’re doing and having El Clasico. The beneficiary is really South Florida.”