The Miami Orange Bowl was an outdoor athletic stadium in Miami, Florida, west of downtown in Little Havana. Considered a landmark, it was the home stadium for the Miami Hurricanes college football team. It also hosted the professional Miami Dolphins for their first 21 seasons, until the opening of Joe Robbie Stadium (now Sun Life Stadium) in nearby Miami Gardens in 1987. The stadium was the temporary home of the FIU Golden Panthers while its FIU Stadium underwent expansion during the 2007 season.
From 1966 to 1968, and in the 1970s a live dolphin was situated in a water tank in the open (east) end of the Orange Bowl. He would jump in the tank to celebrate touchdowns and field goals. The tank that was set up in the 1970s was manufactured by Evan Bush and maintained during the games by Evan Bush and Dene Whitaker. Flipper was removed from the Orange Bowl after 1968 to save costs and the 1970s due to stress. In the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Snowflake, a live dolphin who does special behaviors after the Dolphins score a touchdown, was the basis of the film after he is kidnapped as part of a revenge plot against Dan Marino.
Originally known as Burdine Stadium when opened in 1937, it was renamed in 1959 for the Orange Bowl college football game, which was played at the Orange Bowl following every season from 1938 to 1995. The event was moved to Dolphin Stadium beginning in 1996. In 1999, the bowl game was hosted at the Orange Bowl for one final time due to a scheduling conflict. The minor league Miami Marlins baseball team occasionally played games in the Orange Bowl from 1956 to 1960.
The stadium was built by the City of Miami Public Works Department. Construction began in 1936 and was completed in December 1937. The stadium opened for Miami Hurricanes football on December 10, 1937. From 1926 to 1937 the University of Miami played in a stadium near Tamiami Park and also at Moore Park until the Orange Bowl was built . Orange Bowl, outside of west end zone
The Orange Bowl was originally named Burdine Stadium after Roddy Burdine, one of Miami's pioneers and the owner of the Burdines department store chain. It originally seated 23,739 people along the sidelines—roughly corresponding to the lower level of the sideline seats in the stadium's final configuration. Seating was added in the end zones in the 1940s, and by the end of the 1950s the stadium was double-decked on the sidelines. In 1966, the AFL expansion Miami Dolphins played their first ever regular season game in the stadium on September 2. The west end zone upper deck section was then added in the 1960s, bringing the stadium to its peak capacity of 80,010. In 1964, the Orange Bowl Game was the first college bowl game to be televised in prime time.
In 1977, the permanent seats in the east end zone were removed, and further upgrades brought the stadium to its final capacity and design. The city skyline was visible to the east through the open end, over the modern scoreboard and palm trees. The surface was natural grass, except for six seasons in the 1970s. Poly-Turf, an artificial turf similar to AstroTurf, was installed for the 1970 football season. It was removed and replaced with a type of natural grass known as "Prescription Athletic Turf" after Super Bowl X in January 1976.
University of Miami
The City of Miami embarked on a plan to extensively renovate the stadium. However, those plans fell by the wayside as Miami focused on keeping the Florida Marlins in town, forcing the Hurricanes to threaten a move to Dolphin Stadium (now Sun Life Stadium) in suburban Miami Gardens if a plan to renovate the stadium were not in place within 45 days. Some feared that Miami would permit the college to leave, only to tear down the Orange Bowl and replace it with the new stadium for the Marlins.
That fear became reality as Paul Dee, Athletic Director for the University of Miami, announced that the Hurricanes would be moving to Dolphin Stadium for the 2008 season. Dee and university president Donna Shalala made the announcement during a press conference at the Hecht Athletic Center on August 21, 2007. The University agreed to a 25-year contract to play at then Dolphin Stadium. According to Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez, this put the Orange Bowl back in the forefront as a possible site for a new Marlins stadium. The hope that talks would resume soon on that possibility vanished after only a short while.
Final year and demolition
The Orange Bowl was demolished in May 2008, and Marlins Park is now on the site. Despite some protests, the historic stadium had been earmarked for demolition when the University of Miami announced that they were moving out of the Orange Bowl after the 2007 season to begin play at Sun Life Stadium in 2008 in a 25-year deal. On November 10, 2007, the University of Miami Hurricanes lost their final game at the Orange Bowl when the Virginia Cavaliers defeated Miami 48–0 in the Hurricanes' worst home shutout loss in school history.
The FIU Golden Panthers (now Panthers) won their last game at the Orange Bowl against the North Texas Mean Green on December 1, 2007 by a score of 38–19, snapping a 23-game losing streak that many attributed to the consequences of suspensions following the UM-FIU brawl the year before. Since the Golden Panthers had been using the Orange Bowl as their home field during the construction of FIU Stadium this win allows the FIU team to boast that it was they who officially closed the Orange Bowl's college football career with a home win. A high school all-star game, "The Offense-Defense All-American Bowl", took place on January 4, 2008 and was the last game before the closing events.