Sun Life Stadium

Sun Life Stadium
Sun Life Stadium
Sun Life Stadium logo
Sun Life Stadium
Former names Joe Robbie Stadium (1987–1996)
Pro Player Park (1996)
Pro Player Stadium (1996–2005)
Dolphins Stadium (2005–2006)
Dolphin Stadium (2006–2009)[1]
Land Shark Stadium (2009–2010).
Location 2267 NW 199th Street
Miami Gardens, Florida 33056, United States
Coordinates 25°57′29″N 80°14′20″W / 25.95806°N 80.23889°W / 25.95806; -80.23889Coordinates: 25°57′29″N 80°14′20″W / 25.95806°N 80.23889°W / 25.95806; -80.23889
Broke ground December 1, 1985
Opened August 16, 1987
Owner Stephen M. Ross (95%) and H. Wayne Huizenga (5%)[2]
Surface Prescription Athletic Turf (Natural Grass)
Construction cost $115 million
($222 million in 2011 dollars[3])
Architect HOK Sport (Populous since 2009)
Project Manager Huber, Hunt & Nichols[4]
Structural engineer Bliss and Nyitray, Inc.
Capacity 75,192 (Football)
74,918 (Soccer)
47,662 (1993 baseball)*
42,531 (2001 baseball)*
35,531 (2003 baseball)*
36,331 (2006 baseball)*
38,560 (2008 baseball
*Expandable to approximately 68,000 for baseball
Field dimensions Left field – 330 ft / 100.6 m
Left-center field – 361 ft / 110 m
Center field – 404 ft / 123.1 m
Right-center field – 361 ft / 110 m
Right field – 345 ft / 105.1 m
Backstop – 58 ft / 17.7 m
Miami Dolphins (NFL) (1987–present)
University of Miami Hurricanes (NCAA) (2008–present)
Discover Orange Bowl (1996–1998), (2000–present)
Florida Marlins (MLB) (1993–2011)
Blockbuster/Carquest/MicronPC/Champs Sports Bowl (1990–2000)
Florida Atlantic Owls (NCAA) (2001–2002)
WrestleMania XXVIII (2012)

Sun Life Stadium is an American football stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, a suburb of Miami. It is the home stadium of the Miami Dolphins National Football League team, and the University of Miami Hurricanes football team. It also hosts the Orange Bowl, an annual college football bowl game. It was the home to the Florida Marlins baseball team from 1993-2011. Originally named Joe Robbie Stadium, it has also been known as Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, and Land Shark Stadium.

Since its construction, the stadium has hosted five Super Bowls (XXIII, XXIX, XXXIII, XLI and XLIV), two World Series (1997 and 2003), and three BCS National Championship Games (2001, 2005, 2009). The stadium served as host for the second round of the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and hosted the 2010 Pro Bowl.[5]

On January 18, 2010, the Miami Dolphins signed a five-year deal with Sun Life Financial to rename Dolphin Stadium to Sun Life Stadium. The deal is worth $7.5 million per year for five years (a total of $37.5 million).[6]

It also will be the site for Wrestlemania 28, the flagship event of the WWE.



Conception and construction

Joe Robbie, founder of the Miami Dolphins, led the financing campaign to build a new home for his team. For their first 20 years, the Dolphins played at the Orange Bowl.

County officials check out the interior of the stadium, 1987

Robbie believed it was only a matter of time before a Major League Baseball team came to South Florida. At his request, the stadium was built so only minimal renovations would be necessary to ready it for a baseball team. Most notably, the field was made somewhat wider than is normally the case for an NFL stadium. The wide field also makes it fairly easy to convert the stadium for soccer.

Because of this design decision, the first row of seats is 90 feet (27 m) from the sideline in a football configuration, considerably more distant than the first row of seats in most football stadiums (the closest seats at the new Soldier Field, for instance, are 55 feet (17 m) from the sideline at the 50–yard line). This resulted in a less intimate venue for football compared to other football facilities built around this time, as well as to the Orange Bowl.


The stadium before a Miami Dolphins game, 2007

The first regular season NFL game played there was a 42–0 Dolphins victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on October 11, 1987. The game was in the middle of the 1987 NFL strike, and was played with replacement players. The stadium hosted its first Monday Night Football there on December 7 of that year, in a 37–28 Dolphins victory over the New York Jets. In addition to the Super Bowl, several other playoff games have been played in the stadium, including the 1992 AFC Championship Game, which the Dolphins lost to the Buffalo Bills, 29-10. The Dolphins are 5-3 in playoff games held here.

The Marlins move in

A Florida Marlins baseball game, 2008

In 1990, H. Wayne Huizenga, then Chairman of the Board and CEO of Blockbuster Video and Huizenga Holdings Inc., agreed to purchase 50 percent of then-Joe Robbie Stadium and became the point man in the drive to bring Major League Baseball to south Florida. That effort was rewarded in July 1991, when the Miami area was awarded an MLB expansion franchise. The new team was named the Florida Marlins, and placed in the National League. On January 24, 1994, Huizenga acquired the remaining 50 percent of the stadium to give him 100% ownership. Since 1991, several million dollars have been spent to upgrade and renovate the stadium.

The first Marlins game played at then-Joe Robbie Stadium was on April 5, 1993, a 6–3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Renovations and configurations

After Huizenga bought part of the stadium, it was extensively renovated to accommodate a baseball team, as part of his successful bid to bring baseball to south Florida. Purists initially feared the result would be similar to Exhibition Stadium in Toronto; when the Toronto Blue Jays played there from 1977 to 1989, they were burdened with seats that were so far from the field that they weren't even sold during the regular season. However, as mentioned above, Robbie had foreseen Miami would be a likely location for an new or relocated MLB team, and the stadium was designed to make any necessary renovations for baseball as seamless as possible.

The stadium's baseball capacity was initially reduced to 47,600, with most of the upper level covered with a tarp. In addition to Huizenga's desire create a more intimate atmosphere for baseball, most of the seats in the upper level would have been too far from the field. The stadium's baseball capacity has been further reduced over the years, and it now seats 36,500. However, the Marlins usually open the entire upper level for the postseason. In the 1997 World Series, the Marlins played before crowds of over 67,000 fans—the highest postseason attendance figures in MLB history, only exceeded by Cleveland Stadium, home of the Cleveland Indians during the 1948 World Series and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the temporary home of the Los Angeles Dodgers (before Dodger Stadium was opened) in the 1959 World Series.

Interior of Sun Life Stadium. When the Marlins played there, the field was juggled among the Miami Dolphins, Miami Hurricanes, and Florida Marlins, making it an extremely used turf.

Although it was designed from the ground up to accommodate baseball, Sun Life Stadium is not a true multipurpose stadium. Rather, it is a football stadium that could convert into a baseball stadium. Most of the seats are pointed toward center field – where the 50–yard line would be in the football configuration. As such, the sight lines were not as good for baseball. This was particularly evident during the Marlins' World Series appearances in 1997 and 2003. Some portions of left and center field were not part of the football playing field, and fans sitting in the left field upper-deck seats were unable to see these areas except on the replay boards.

Aside from baseball renovations, the stadium has undergone some permanent renovations. In April 2006, the stadium unveiled two large video boards from Daktronics, the largest in professional sports at the time.[7] The east display measures 50 feet (15 m) high by 140 feet (43 m) wide, and the west end zone display measure 50 feet (15 m) high by 100 feet (30 m) wide. A new 2,118-foot (646 m)-long LED ribbon board, again the largest in the world at the time, was also installed. These have since been surpassed in size.[8]

In addition, the upgrades include vastly widened 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) concourses on the stadium’s north and south sides. Bars, lounges and other amenities have also been added. The renovation has three phases, the first has been completed; the second and third phases of renovation will take place after the Marlins move from the stadium. These remaining phases include the addition of a roof to shield fans from the rain, as well as remodeling the sidelines of the lower bowl to narrow the field and bring seats closer, ending its convertibility to baseball.[9]

The stadium contains 10,209 club seats and 216 suites. When the Marlins played at the stadium, 2,400 of the club seats and 216 suites were available.

Notable events



An NFL game at then-named Dolphin Stadium in 2007

The stadium has played host to five Super Bowls (1989, 1995, 1999, 2007, and 2010). There has been a kickoff return for a touchdown in each Super Bowl played at the stadium, except in the most recent game. The stadium also hosted the 2010 Pro Bowl.

The NFL is threatening not to return (for the Super Bowl or Pro Bowl) unless significant renovations are made. One of the upgrades desired was a roof to protect fans from the elements. The 2007 Super Bowl at Dolphin Stadium — when Indianapolis defeated Chicago 29-17 — was marred by heavy rains. An estimated 30 percent of the lower-level seating was empty during the second half.[10] The concern about the elements during the Super Bowl no longer appears as much of an issue since the NFL awarded Super Bowl XLVIII to New Jersey, the first Super Bowl to be played outdoors (with the possibility of snowfall) in a northern state.[11]

The Dolphins already have pulled the plug on pitching a $200-million hotel tax proposal that would have included a partial stadium roof. With the end zones facing east and west, the uncovered north side of the stadium bakes in the south Florida sun. The issue has become so problematic that Stephen Ross, who owns the Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium, successfully petitioned the NFL for no early kickoffs in September home games even at the expense of losing home-field advantage against opponents unaccustomed to the sweltering heat and humidity.[12]


The stadium has hosted the Miami Hurricanes beginning in 2008. The stadium was the home field for the Florida Atlantic Owls (2001–2002).

Between 1990 and 2000, the stadium hosted a bowl game variously known as the Blockbuster Bowl, CarQuest Bowl, and MicronPC Bowl. After 2000, that bowl was moved to Orlando, where it eventually became known as the Champs Sports Bowl.

The stadium has been the site of the Orange Bowl game since 1996, except for the January 1999 contest between Florida and Syracuse, which had to be moved due to a conflict with a Dolphins playoff game.

Until 2008, the stadium was host biennially to the yearly Shula Bowl, a game played between Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University, when the game was hosted by FAU as the home team.(FIU hosts the game at their own stadium, FIU Stadium, every other year).

On January 8, 2009, the stadium hosted the 2009 BCS National Championship Game between Florida and Oklahoma.


Two National League Division Series have been played at Sun Life Stadium.

Two National League Championship Series have been played at Sun Life Stadium.

Two World Series have been played at Sun Life Stadium.

The stadium was the venue where Ken Griffey, Jr. hit his 600th career home run off Mark Hendrickson of the Florida Marlins on June 9, 2008; and where Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history on May 29, 2010 against the Marlins.


Guns N' Roses performed a New Year's Eve show on December 31, 1991.

Madonna performed during her Sticky and Sweet Tour on November 26, 2008, in front of a sold-out audience of 48,000.

Paul McCartney performed at the stadium during his Up and Coming Tour on April 3, 2010.

U2 performed during their 360° Tour on June 29, 2011, with Florence + The Machine as their opening act. The show was originally scheduled for July 9, 2010, but was postponed, due to Bono's emergency back surgery. The concert forced the Marlins' interleague series with the Seattle Mariners, originally scheduled to be played at Sun Life Stadium the previous weekend, to move to Safeco Field in Seattle.


Sun Life Stadium hosted a match between FC Barcelona and C.D. Guadalajara on August 3, 2011, as part of the 2011 World Football Challenge. Guadalajara won the match 4–1 in front of 70,080 attendees.[13]

Other events

Other events held at the stadium have included international Football games, monster truck shows, Hoop-It-Up Basketball, RV and boat shows, the UniverSoul Circus, Australian rules football exhibition matches, and numerous trade shows. It has even hosted religious gatherings, most notably a visit by Pope John Paul II.

In 2006, it hosted the High School State Football Championships, sanctioned by the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA). Movies have also been shot there, most notably Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which starred Jim Carrey and featured Dolphins great Dan Marino as himself; Marley and Me starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston; and the Oliver Stone-directed Any Given Sunday.

On February 8, 2011, the stadium was chosen to host WWE's WrestleMania XXVIII. The event will take place on Sunday, April 1, 2012. On the April 4, 2011 edition of WWE Raw, it was announced that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would be facing John Cena in his first match at a WrestleMania event since 2004.

Naming rights

Sun Life Stadium, was known as Land Shark Stadium for less than a year

The stadium has gone through many name changes, bringing up the overall question of the value of corporate naming rights.[14]

Initially, Dolphins Stadium was named after Joe Robbie, the original and then-owner of the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins were the stadium's primary tenant at the time.

In the early 1990s, Wayne Huizenga gained control of the stadium. Huizenga first sold the naming rights to Pro Player, the sports apparel division of Fruit of the Loom, and Joe Robbie Stadium became Pro Player Stadium on August 26, 1996.

Fruit of the Loom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1999, and the Pro Player brand was ultimately liquidated in 2001, but the stadium name held for several more years. In January 2005, the Pro Player name was replaced with Dolphins Stadium, coinciding with a renovation of the stadium. Dolphins was changed to Dolphin in April 2006, in an update of graphics and logos.[15]

From February 2008 through January 2009, Stephen M. Ross gradually acquired 95% of the stadium and surrounding land. He then partnered with Jimmy Buffett to change the name once more, this time to Land Shark Stadium. The renaming was announced on May 9, 2009, but would last less than a year as the deal did not include rights for the upcoming 2010 Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIV.[16]

On January 20, 2010, the firm Sun Life Financial officially announced that they had acquired the naming rights, and the name of the stadium became Sun Life Stadium.[17]

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Ross said the agreement to change the name from Dolphin Stadium is for this season only and expires before the stadium plays host to the Super Bowl in February." "Dolphins' home renamed Land Shark Stadium in deal with singer Buffett". Associated Press. 2009-05-10. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  2. ^ Ross' percentage is approximate. Small stakes are also known to be owned by the following sports and entertainment celebrities:
  3. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2008. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "2010 Pro Bowl moving to Miami, will be played before Super Bowl". Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  6. ^ Kirbyson, Terry (January, 11 2011). "Canwest fades from city skyline". 
  7. ^ "Sun Life Stadium: Fast Facts". 
  8. ^ "Sun Life Stadium: Fast Facts". 
  9. ^ "Plans Unveiled for Dolphin Stadium Renovation". 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "2011-08-03: Barcelona vs. CD Guadalajara". 3 August 2011. Retrieved September 6, 2011. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Evans, Simon (May 8, 2009). "Dolphin Stadium renamed Land Shark Stadium". Reuters. 
  17. ^

External links

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