SBJ/July 21 - 27, 2003/Facilities

City, Miami U plan luxury suites

Orange Bowl Stadium’s lower bowl will be rebuilt with 24 skybox luxury suites.

The city of Miami and University of Miami plan to build 24 luxury suites at Orange Bowl Stadium, and the school will be responsible for leasing the premium seating, City Manager Joe Arriola said.

"We're going to tear down the lower bowl and rebuild it with skyboxes on both sides, 24 altogether," he said. "We'll start work right after the last football game of 2003 and it will be done in nine to 10 months, in time for the ACC season."

Miami's athletic program moves from the Big East Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference, effective for the 2004-05 school year.

As of mid-July, no architect had been selected for the project. University officials were tight-lipped about the school's involvement. UM hired The Hammes Co. of Madison, Wis., to complete a feasibility study on improving the Orange Bowl. More information should be released by Sept. 1.

"We're working with the city to come to some kind of agreement. We have looked at plans but are not in position to comment. We're in the midst of trying to work out something," said Steve Nebrat, Miami's assistant athletic director for facilities.

But Arriola said the Hurricanes have committed to marketing and selling the suites, revenue that would be used to help pay off general obligation bonds sold to initially finance construction. Naming rights are among other potential sources of funding.

Increased concession revenue also could assist financing, as the city has increased its average percentage take from 33 percent to 47 percent, pending a seven-year contract signed with new food service provider Boston Concessions (see related story).

Suite leases will probably range from $100,000 to $125,000 a year, Arriola said. Premium-seat packages would encompass all Orange Bowl events.

"We would love to have seven to eight football games and at least 40 soccer games per year," he said.

By discussing the capital improvements, Arriola wanted to squelch rumors that the Hurricanes would eventually relocate to Pro Player Stadium, home of the NFL Dolphins and the FedEx Orange Bowl game. The school's lease is effective through 2009.

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Colleges, Miami Dolphins

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