Hard Rock Stadium enhancements add to Dolphins’ future Super Bowl bids

Hard Rock Stadium will host Super Bowl LIV. (Getty Images)

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.”

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Super Bowl LII: Where does Dolphins’ drought rank after Eagles win?

The 1972 group was the last Dolphins team to win a Super Bowl. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

Every time the Dolphins celebrate their 1972 perfect season is a recognition of arguably the best team in NFL history, but it’s also a reminder of how long the franchise’s championship drought has lasted. Miami won it again the following year with a triumph in Super Bowl VII and hasn’t stood atop the football world since.

The Eagles’ 41-33 victory over New England in Super Bowl LII delivered the team’s first Lombardi Trophy and ended a 52-year wait in Philadelphia. The team did win the 1960 NFL championship, but it had been one of seven teams that have been around the entire Super Bowl era and failed to win one.

Miami is now sitting at 44 seasons without a Super Bowl win, which is the 12th-worst drought in the league, and hasn’t appeared in one since losing to San Francisco at the end of the 1984 season. The only five teams that have a longer run of failing to reach a title game are the Lions (60 years), Jets (49), Chiefs (48), Browns (45) and Vikings (41).

Here are the longest droughts without a Super Bowl win, now that Philadelphia is off this unfortunate list:

52 years: Cardinals, Lions, Titans, Chargers, Bills, Vikings, Falcons
50 years: Bengals
49 years: Browns, Jets
48 years: Chiefs
44 years: Dolphins
34 years: Raiders
32 years: Bears

[An NFL Draft solution to the Miami Dolphins’ guard problem]

[Eagles borrowed Super Bowl trick play from Dolphins’ OC]

[Dolphins WR DeVante Parker not off to great career start]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

South Florida begins process to land yet another future Super Bowl

Artist’s rendering of the proposed Super Bowl park gathering area in downtown Miami.

With a future calendar that includes a U2 concert, Barcelona vs. Real Madrid and the 2020 Super Bowl, you might ask what more could logically be expected for Hard Rock Stadium?

Another Super Bowl, that’s what.

Rodney Barreto, chairman of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee, confirmed Tuesday that his group has taken the first step in the process to land a second future Super Bowl for South Florida.

After the Super Bowl in Miami Gardens, the title game will shift to the Rams’ new stadium in Inglewood, Calif., in 2021. But after that, it’s fair game.

The NFL sent a letter to various cities asking if they would be interested in participating in the bidding process for the next batch of Super Bowls. For Barreto, who half-jokingly wonders why every Super Bowl isn’t played in South Florida, it didn’t take long to draft a letter with a definite yes.

NFL owners voted last summer to bring the game back to South Florida following a 10-year hiatus thanks in large part to the half-billion dollar renovation by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, capped by a presentation by Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Csonka.

“We’re back, baby, is the way I look at it,” Barreto said. “Look at that stadium. It’s incredible. Geographical location, South Florida — you know what I mean? It doesn’t get any better than this. Look at what’s going on in the Northeast right now.”

In recent years, the NFL has shown a willingness to bring the game to non-traditional areas such as Indianapolis, Minneapolis and New York/New Jersey. Cities with new or greatly improved stadiums, such as Miami and Atlanta, also have been rewarded. Put it together and what does that mean for South Florida?

“I’m hoping at least every four years, right?” Barreto said. “I think the NFL had some real experiences at some other cities.”

Although he was impressed by Houston’s job hosting the most recent Super Bowl, Barreto said he thought the 2016 game in the San Francisco Bay Area was too vanilla for a 50th anniversary Super Bowl.

“I wasn’t totally impressed,” Barreto said. “And the stadium was an hour, hour and a half outside San Francisco. I don’t know, I’m biased. Ideally we’d love to have it here on some kind of rotation basis. I’m not sure that’s in the cards yet. A lot of these teams want to have the Super Bowl. They realized what we’ve known all along: Super Bowls are great for your community.”

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Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Stop the presses! Boston paper declares Patriots losers; Brady rewrites ending

Football fans in Florida who were rooting hard against the Patriots in the Super Bowl received a strange surprise of sorts Monday morning.

A BITTER END

That was the banner headline on the early edition of The Boston Globe distributed to areas including Florida — the product of early deadlines for a big game that sure seemed like it was going the Atlanta Falcons’ way.

The Globe even plastered a large picture of a downtrodden Tom Brady.

Before you could scream STOP THE PRESSES! Brady and the New England Patriots were  engineering a remarkable comeback for the ages with 31 unanswered points for a 34-28 overtime victory in Houston.

After the game, Brady was chagrined to discover someone had swiped his game jersey. It’s small consolation, but at least now he has this Dewey-defeats-Truman boo-boo to make him grin.

For later editions, of course, The Globe’s front page is a bit different.

WIN FOR THE AGES was the banner headline, accompanied by a large photo of a joyous Brady holding the Vince Lombardi trophy.

As for the first edition, it’s probably just a matter of time before someone has a little Photoshop fun. All that’s required is adding an ‘E’ at the very end of the red label headline that accompanies A BITTER END.

How’s that label read in its original form?

SUPER BOWL LI

Final edition:

Since Tom Brady, here’s every 199th overall NFL Draft Pick

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady #12 in action against the Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl 51 on Sunday, February 5, 2017 in Houston, TX. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady in action against the Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl 51 in Houston, TX. Brady, once the 199th overall draft choice, won again. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills wondered on Twitter Sunday night if Tom Brady is the NFL’s Michael Jordan.

Meanwhile, Dolphins safety Isa Abdul-Quddus saw no reason to debate: he proclaimed Brady the greatest of all time.

One thing is certain: the greatest draft choice in NFL history came in 2000, when New England selected Tom Brady of Michigan with the 199th overall pick, in the sixth round of the NFL Draft.

How great a choice was it?

Take a look at the players selected 199th overall since 2001.

(If you’re wondering, with the first pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected defensive tackle Ernest Grant of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Grant played 24 NFL games, with 18 tackles and 0.5 sacks.)

This is a photo of Ernest Grant celebrating (not as easy to find as #12, you know…)

12022001 Pro Player Stadium.... Miami Dolphins vs Denver Broncos... Dolphins #97 Ernest Grant celebrates as teammate Kenny Mixon returns an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Dolphins a 14-10 lead. Broncos #62 Dan Neil gets up off the turf. Staff photo by Allen Eyestone
At Pro Player Stadium in 2001, Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ernest Grant celebrates as teammate Kenny Mixon returns an interception for a touchdown (Staff photo Allen Eyestone)

While everyone waits for Tom Brady to get old and retire, he has suggested he feels great and has got plenty left.

The Dolphins haven’t won a single playoff game since Brady took over as New England’s quarterback.

So, great.

10072001 MIAMI DOLPHINS VS. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS / PRO PLAYER STADIUM........Dolphins defender Jason Taylor sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady towards the close of the first half of play. PHOTO BY DAMON HIGGINS/THE PALM BEACH POST
In this photo take in 2001, Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The Dolphins won as Brady passed for only 86 yards and was sacked four times. It’s been downhill for Miami since. (PHOTO BY DAMON HIGGINS/THE PALM BEACH POST)

Everyone seeks their own Tom Brady, as unlikely now as they are to find one in the sixth round.

Since 2000, here’s what teams have done the 199th overall selection:

2000: New England Patriots — Tom Brady, QB, Michigan; 5 Super Bowl rings, 2 NFL MVP, 12 Pro Bowls

2001: Tennessee Titans — Adam Haayer, OT, Minnesota; 20 career games

2002: Chicago Bears — Adrian Peterson, RB, Georgia Southern; 1,283 career rushing yards

2003: NY Giants — Willie Ponder, WR, SE Missouri St.; 122 career KO returns

2004: Baltimore Ravens — Clarence Moore, WR, Northern Arizona; 29 career catches

2005: Kansas City Chiefs — Khari Long, DE, Baylor, 1 career game

2006: Indianapolis Colts — Charlie Johnson, OT, Oklahoma State; 134 career games

2007: Miami Dolphins — Drew Mormino, C, Central Michigan; no stats

2008: NY Giants — Robert Henderson, DE, Southern Miss; no stats

2009: Oakland Raiders — Stryker Sulak, DE, Missouri; no stats

2010: Minnesota Vikings — Joe Webb, WR, Alabama-Birmingham; 8 career catches

2011: Kansas City Chiefs — Jerrell Powe, DT, Ole Miss; 12 career tackles

2012: San Francisco 49ers — Jason Slowey, OL, Western Oregon; no stats

2013: Detroit Lions — Theo Riddick, RB, Notre Dame; 1,410 receiving yards

2014: Seattle Seahawks — Garrett Scott, OL, Marshall; no stats

2015: Pittsburgh Steelers — Leterrius Walton, DT, Central Michigan; 6 career tackles

2016: Cincinnati Bengals — Cody Ware, WR, Ole Miss; 17 career catches

https://twitter.com/iamisa1/status/828445346175008768

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Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Super Bowl LII betting odds: Miami Dolphins open as big long shot

Miami hasn't won a Super Bowl since going back-to-back in 1972 and '73. (Getty Images)
Miami hasn’t won a Super Bowl since going back-to-back in 1972 and ’73. (Getty Images)

This time last year, the Atlanta Falcons weren’t much better off than the Dolphins are now.

Atlanta’s 2015 season came crashing down with a six-game losing streak, and the Falcons finished 8-8 before jumping to 11-5 this year and making a run to the Super Bowl. They were within a minute of winning the championship before New England rallied for 34-28 overtime victory.
Continue reading “Super Bowl LII betting odds: Miami Dolphins open as big long shot”

A little candy to treat Dolphins fans sick of seeing Patriots in Super Bowl again

This time of year can be tough on Miami Dolphins fans, now 43 years removed from

1973 file photo. Don Shula.

Don Shula in 1973. (Post file photo)

the last NFL championship in franchise history, and that frustration goes double when the New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl again.

As a public service to the South Florida market we offer these proofs that it was not always this way (Patriots ruling the AFC East and, too frequently, the world) and it will not stay this way forever (in theory, at least).

  • Between 1964-75, the Boston/New England Patriots experienced a 12-season postseason drought. The Dolphins’ longest stretch without a playoff game is seven seasons.
  • During the sad period of Patriots history listed above, the Dolphins won a couple of Super Bowls, posted the only perfect season in NFL history and ran up a 13-6 record against the Pats.
  • Between 1963-82, the Patriots qualified for just four playoff games and lost them all. The last loss in that string was a first-rounder to Miami in 1982, and the Dolphins went on to play in the Super Bowl that year.
  • The Dolphins are 16 years without a postseason victory at the moment, but there’s still time to put one on the board before reaching the Patriots’ franchise worst drought of 21 years between 1964-84.
  • Three times in their history the Patriots have owned or shared the worst record in the NFL – 1970, 1990 and 1992. That has happened to Miami only once (2007).
  • The Dolphins lead the all-time series with the Patriots 53-50, playoffs included.
  • The Dolphins own the longest winning streak in the series, with nine straight victories over the Patriots between 1989-93. The Patriots have never won more than seven in a row against Miami.
  • The Dolphins have the most lopsided victory in the series, 52-0 in 1972.
  • When Tom Brady joines the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day, he’ll still be outnumbered by Bob Griese and Dan Marino.
  • Bill Belichick may have 262 career victories but he’s still 85 short of Don Shula.

 

Conclusions? This makes me feel a little bit better about the faulty concept that everything always goes New England’s way, and a little bit worse that it took so much work to find these Miami advantages.

Trust me, it does no good to dig further. Stop here, before counting up division titles, Super Bowls and such, and before recognizing that Shula was 65 when the Dolphins pushed him out of the way for Jimmy Johnson. Belichick is 64 and still working on his trophy case.

[Here’s a Miami Heat upset crazier than Monday’s win over Warriors]

[Gators fall a touchdown short of college football’s scoring average]

[Wondering if Dolphins’ No. 22 draft slot is haunted]

20 best artists to perform at the Super Bowl LIV halftime show

South Florida has a vibrant music scene. Just ask anyone.

And with Super Bowl LIV coming to the Miami Gardens stadium formerly known as Sun Life in February of 2020, it’s not too early to start thinking about who should be providing the halftime entertainment.

Here are our top 20 picks for who the NFL should select.

[playbuzz-item url=”//www.playbuzz.com/adamhs10/20-best-candidates-to-perform-at-the-super-bowl-2020-halftime-show”]

2020 Super Bowl awarded to Miami, will be 11th Super Bowl in South Florida

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stephen Ross’ half-billion dollar gamble hit the jackpot.

Dolphins fans are cheering Tuesday thanks to the 20XX Super Bowl being awarded to Miami by the NFL. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
Dolphins fans are cheering Tuesday thanks to the 2020 Super Bowl being awarded to Miami by the NFL. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

The NFL opted Tuesday to award the 2020 Super Bowl to Miami, returning the title game to South Florida for the first time since 2010.

And it’s not just any Super Bowl — the game will come on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the NFL, an occasion that local organizers plan to use as a key theme to Super Bowl week.

It also marks the 11th Super Bowl in South Florida — breaking a tie with New Orleans for the most times hosting the event.

(RELATED: Ranking each of the previous Miami Super Bowls)

Atlanta and Los Angeles were awarded the 2019 and 2021 Super Bowls, respectively.

Though expected, the 2020 announcement was greeted by cheers in a small meeting room by Dolphins officials and members of the South Florida Bid Committee in the posh Ballantyne Hotel, where just across the hallway, a majority of the 32 NFL owners gave their blessing to South Florida following a pitch by Dolphins legend Larry Csonka, who talked at length about the money Ross is spending on renovating the Dolphins’ stadium.

(GALLERY: Sun Life Stadium renovations)

“Thank you, NFL, for having 2020 vision!” said Nicki Grossman, Broward County’s tourism chief and a longtime committee member who is retiring next month.

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross unveils plans for Sun Life Stadium renovations and construction deadlines at a press conference at Sun Life Stadium on January 16, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross unveils plans for Sun Life Stadium renovations and construction deadlines at a press conference at Sun Life Stadium on January 16, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

In a few years, officials will joyously shut down parts of Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami, turning it into a “Super Bowl city” with week-long activities for ticket-holders and non-ticket-holders alike. Events will be planned throughout South Florida, from South Beach to Fort Lauderdale Beach to Palm Beach.

While Csonka pushed Miami over the goal line — like his days as a Hall of Fame fullback on the Dolphins’ championship teams — it was Ross’ checkbook that put Miami within striking range.

The NFL had made it clear that without renovations to the then-named Sun Life Stadium, Miami not only lost its spot in the Super Bowl rotation, it wouldn’t get any Super Bowls, period. After protracted legal and political wrangling over tax money, Ross opened his wallet and paid for the upgrades himself.

At first, the renovations carried a $350 million price tag, but the latest estimates, which might be conservative, have the cost at $450 million. Rain spoiled the 2007 game in Miami (Bears-Colts), so Ross is installing a canopy over the seating areas, which is the most significant upgrade. He also installed all-new seats, is upgrading the suites and installing new video replay boards in all four corners of the stadium.

Csonka said once that work is complete, the Dolphins’ home will be on par with any stadium in the NFL. Therefore, he said, “Why not?” put a Super Bowl in Miami.

(RELATED: Long time between Super Bowl visits for South Florida)

The South Florida Bid Committee, headed by Rodney Barreto, arrived in Charlotte optimistic. They’d been disappointed before — the next two Super Bowls will be in Houston and Minneapolis — but, privately, they knew they had their strongest case in ages. In his Coral Gables office, Barreto proudly kept a massive, 526-page proposal in a binder that outlined the ways South Florida had checked off every requirement the NFL wanted from contending cities.

Sun Life Stadium renovations are nearing completion of Phase 1 in Miami Gardens, Florida on August 27, 2015. For the 2016 season, a canopy will cover the seating areas. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Sun Life Stadium renovations are nearing completion of Phase 1 in Miami Gardens, Florida on August 27, 2015. For the 2016 season, a canopy will cover the seating areas. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

The seeds were planted three years ago almost to the date, when owners met in Boston and awarded the 50th Super Bowl to the San Francisco Bay Area and the upcoming season’s title game to Houston. But it was the way Miami was rebuffed — the votes were via rare super-majorities, meaning Miami hadn’t even gotten nine votes each time. Plus, the defeats came inside a 10-minute span. Owners clearly didn’t need time to think about it. Then-Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said, “It sends a clear message that we weren’t in the hunt. There’s no other conclusion to draw.”

It was especially crushing to Ross, who is now 76.

“I really wanted to see it and I wanted it to be my legacy,” Ross said at the time.

Ross can now set the bar on his legacy a bit higher: hoping his Dolphins actually get to host the championship game in their own stadium.

Georgia vetoes bill, keeping Atlanta in chase with Miami for Super Bowl

A sketch of the renovated Dolphins stadium, formerly known as Sun Life Stadium but awaiting a new title sponsor.
A sketch of the renovated Dolphins stadium, formerly known as Sun Life Stadium but awaiting a new title sponsor.

Georgia’s decision to veto the controversial “religious liberty” bill isn’t just a sign of inclusion for gays, but also one of inclusion in Atlanta’s scramble to land one of the next three available Super Bowls.

What that means for South Florida: a stiff competitor in the lucrative Super Bowl chase didn’t knock itself out of the picture.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said he’ll veto the bill on the grounds it doesn’t reflect “the character of our state of the character of our people.”

Only last week in Boca Raton, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has a brother who is gay, was asked about the bill, which gay-rights activists have labeled discriminatory.

“That’s something that the community is obviously focused on,” Goodell said as the league’s annual meetings concluded. “The legislation — we’re aware of that. We’ll see when they make a decision on that. Our bid process, as you know, goes into April. All factors are considered. The membership makes a decision on the basis of each individual club. What they want to vote for and they will weigh certain issues however they determine to weigh them. So that’s something that each of the owners will have to make that decision in May.”

The NFL made its position on the matter clear a couple of years ago when a similar bill in Arizona put its Super Bowl hosting duties at risk. That bill also failed.

“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” the league said in a recent statement. “Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”

The next two Super Bowls will be in Houston and Minneapolis, but the three starting in early 2019 are up for grabs. South Florida, Atlanta and Tampa are seeking the 2019 and 2020 games. New Orleans wants the 2019 game. Los Angeles has eyes on 2020 or 2021. No city will land more than one of those three games.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is shelling out $450 million to renovate his stadium and make it Super Bowl-worthy, but Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a retractable-roof facility, is costing $1.4 billion.