Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Saying goodbye to the OB (Warning, this is the least interesting thing I've ever written)

After seventy years in the not-terribly-friendly confines of the Orange Bowl, Miami Hurricane football is moving on out. They will join other elite programs like Temple University, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and USF as the schools too cheap to build and maintain their own stadiums. Much like the others have done with their local NFL Teams, the Canes will invade the space already occupied by the Miami Dolphins. Not only that, but the Florida Marlins – the only franchise in professional sports with a perfect post season series record – also play at Dolphin Stadium (seriously… in their history they’ve only made the playoffs twice, and have won the World Series as many times). So aside from this meaning that serious conflicts between the baseball and football teams will be inevitable for the next 25 years, there are many other issues “The U” might want to consider as it transitions out of their soon-to-be-rubble horseshoe.
(Editors’ Note: Speculation is that if and when the Orange Bowl comes down, a new stadium will be built in its place specifically designed for baseball and will be the new home of the Marlins.)
The Orange Bowl has seen some pretty good teams and some pretty good games over the past several years. It saw two of the three “wide right” games against Florida State (and the one and only “wide left”). It hosted what is widely considered the greatest game of all time in the 1984 Orange Bowl (1983 season), where Miami beat Tom Osborne’s Nebraska team on a last minute stop of a two point conversion to win the national title. It was where Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary pass to Gerald Phelan some how gave BC an improbable birth in the Cotton Bowl. It’s an icon in college football, there is no denying that. I guess Miami decided it was just time to move on.
But why? It doesn’t really seem logical to me. First and foremost, the city of Miami wants the Canes to stay. They offered to back renovations of over $200 million (WHAT?!) for the OB just to keep the team from leaving. That’s enough money to fix every loose bolt, every creaky bench, every leaking sink, and they’d still have enough left over to put up a new jumbotron. They could basically turn the Orange Bowl into an upscale version of (insert other horseshoe style stadium here). Man, they must have really wanted out.
Additionally, how are they going to pack Dolphin Stadium when they can’t even get half the seats in the existing stadium filled? Dolphin Stadium, aside from being located in Miami Gardens, seats more people than OB, and that had already been an issue. In 2001, when Miami had one of the best college football teams ever assembled (don’t argue with me here – I don’t care if you went to ND, Oklahoma, Nebraska, FSU, USC, or anywhere else), they still didn’t fill the place. They failed to get 40,000 people into the stadium in three of six home games, and didn’t come close to capacity in five of six (the only one they sold out was against Washington, to whom they had lost the year before). How exactly is a currently mediocre team going to fill an out-of-the-way NFL facility?
I’m not as invested in this as it seems, in fact I don’t even like Miami football. However, the big time programs should play in their own houses. I know that the University is like eight miles from the Orange Bowl too, but at least that’s their place. Now they’re going to be playing at a stadium with another team’s name on it. It’s just not right, and you sure as hell wouldn’t see it from other colleges. Georgia Tech isn’t going to ditch Bobby Dodd for the Georgia Dome, Rutgers won’t move up to Rutherford, and Washington won’t be leaving Husky Stadium for Qwest Field, even though they were kind enough to host the Seahawks during construction. NFL stadiums hosting NCAA teams always has a lame atmosphere, and I fear Miami might see that when they make this move. Dolphin Stadium may be a hell of a lot nicer, but it can’t touch the Orange Bowl (or Michigan Stadium, Neyland, Ohio, Beaver, Lane, Kyle Field, Mountaineer Field, the Carrier Dome, Bronco Stadium, etc) for atmosphere.
Oh, and once again: The Princeton Review can bite me.

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