Orange Bowl (Miami’s Original Stadium)

The Orange Bowl, formerly Burdine Stadium, 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 Sun Life Stadium (then called Joe Robbie 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.

Burdine Stadium was renamed in 1959 for the Orange Bowl college football game, which was played at the Orange Bowl following every season from 1938–95. 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 1956-60.

The stadium was on a large block bounded by Northwest 3rd Street (south), Northwest 16th Avenue (west), Northwest 6th Street (north) and Northwest 14th Avenue (east, the open end of the stadium).

The Orange Bowl was demolished in 2008 to make way for the new 37,000-seat retractable-roof baseball stadium of the Florida Marlins scheduled to open in 2012.

History

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.

The Orange Bowl was originally named Burdine Stadium after Roddy Burdine, one of Miami’s pioneers. The original stadium consisted of the two sideline lower decks. Seating was added in the endzones 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 endzone 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 endzone 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.

Under the leadership of Hall of Fame head coach Don Shula, the Miami Dolphins enjoyed a winning record in the Orange Bowl against rival teams in the AFC Eastern Division. Under Shula, the Dolphins were an impressive 57–9–1 (60–10–1 including playoff contests) against the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts (15–3), the Boston/NewEngland Patriots (15–1), the Buffalo Bills (16–1) and the New York Jets (13–4–1). The playoff results are: AFC Championship games: (1971, Miami 21, Baltimore 0); (1982, Miami 14, New York Jets 0) and (1985, New England 31, Miami 14) and AFC First Round game (1982 strike shortened season, Miami 28, New England 13).

Notable winning streaks during the Shula-era in the Orange Bowl include a 13–0 streak against the Buffalo Bills and a 15–0 streak against the New England Patriots, Also of note, the Miami Dolphins enjoyed a record 31-game home winning streak from 1971-75. This 31-game streak includes four playoff wins and the perfect season of 1972. The Dolphins have not enjoyed the same level of success in Sun Life Stadium. While much of this lack of success in Sun Life Stadium is obviously attributable to a diminished level of talent and organizational stability, it is also widely recognized that the homefield advantage that the Dolphins enjoyed in the Orange Bowl was exponentially greater than in their newer home. This was in great part due to the atmosphere of the Bowl. The closeness of the seats to the field, along with the closed West End Zone, metal bleachers, and steel structure (and of course the team’s success and its status as Miami’s only professional sports team for so many years), gave the venue one of the loudest and most electric homefield environments in the NFL. Visiting team quarterbacks often complained to referees or were forced to call time out as their teammates could not hear them barking out the signals due to the unbearable noise, especially when the Dolphins were making a goal-line stand in the closed West End Zone. While Sun Life Stadium is much newer and cleaner and is considered one of the top facilities in the NFL, with top-notch amenities, the seats are much farther from the field, and even at its loudest, Sun Life Stadium doesn’t come close to comparing to that of the Orange Bowl.

The Orange Bowl was also the site of the NCAA’s longest college football home field winning streak. Between 1985 and 1994, the Miami Hurricanes won 58 straight home games at the Bowl, until ended by the Washington Huskies. The stadium’s home field advantage used to include a steel structure that fans would set to rumbling by stomping their feet. Concrete reinforcement had silenced the rumble. There was still the advantage of the West End Zone, which has a relatively narrow radius that amplifies fan noise. The West End Zone was a factor in the Wide Right curse, in which the Florida State Seminoles lost a series of close games due to missed field goals. This section was so raucous that some football announcers often confused it with the student section.

In addition to football, the stadium also hosted concerts and other public events. The stadium had a regular capacity of 74,476 orange seats, and could seat up to 82,000 for concerts and other events where additional seating would have been placed on the playing field.

The last professional football game to be played in the Orange Bowl took place on April 29, 2000 and matched the Miami Tropics vs the San Antonio Matadors of the Spring Football League. The Matadors won 16-13.

References: Wikipedia.org (Miami Orange Bowl)