SBD/August 4, 2011/Facilities

Sun Life Stadium's Big-Game Future Uncertain After Marlins' Departure

The Marlins will open a new ballpark next season, and their departure from Sun Life Stadium “leaves an uncertain future for their home of the past 18 years, which has more to do with the stadium's age than the loss of baseball,” according to Craig Davis of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Whether the future “includes regular stops by the Super Bowl and BCS Championship games may hinge on renovation plans currently in limbo.” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee last week said that there is “no plan for seeking public funding since a bid to raise the tourist tax cap in Miami-Dade County for that purpose failed this spring in the Florida Legislature.” Still, stadium officials “are prepared to aggressively pursue new events.” That has “already begun with WrestleMania XXVIII, scheduled for April 1, 2012, expected to fill the 75,000-plus seats.” Dee said, "Despite the Marlins' struggles here to draw, from a business sense it was good for the owners of the stadium to have the Marlins here. The flip side of that is it took up an inordinate amount of shelf space as far as dates. There are a multitude of different events that we've had the ability to go after in prior years that we were unable to do so because of the commitment to baseball." The absence of baseball “will provide opportunity to bring in more concerts as well as events such as the University of Miami spring game.” But Craig wrote the “big games have defined the stadium, and the big question is when will they be back?” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “never ruled out the Super Bowl returning.” South Florida has hosted 10 of them, but “sun and South Beach are not enough to ensure frequent returns to an aging stadium” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/3).

THIS IS NO MARLINS GAME: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman reports last night's Chivas de Guadalajara-FC Barcelona match at Sun Life Stadium drew 70,080 fans, the "biggest crowd for a soccer game in state history." The previous high was a '94 FIFA World Cup match in Orlando. During the Herbalife World Football Challenge match, the stadium "could have been mistaken for Barca's Camp Nou Stadium" due to the "sea of Barca's maroon-and-blue striped jerseys, Latin music and largely Spanish-speaking crowd" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/4).
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