|'Canes set to make the move to Dolphin Stadium|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 26 August 2008 22:10|
He was aboard a plane making its descent back into Miami, when he peered out the window and tried to spot the Orange Bowl. He looked one way and then another, trying to spot the relic that was the epicenter of South Florida football for decades.
And then he remembered: It's gone.
``I saw a big vacant lot,'' Shannon said. ``You wouldn't believe it. And that's what it is now.''
Out with the old, in with the new.
The Hurricanes have moved north, and will officially begin a 25-year stay at Dolphin Stadium on Thursday night when Miami opens its season against Charleston Southern, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA.
t have, such as giant video screens at either end of the field, luxury suites and enough parking to accommodate a sellout crowd.
``It's going to be an exciting night for everyone,'' left tackle Jason Fox said.
Dolphin Stadium - where Miami already is 3-0, having won three bowl games at that facility - offers several things the Orange Bowl lacked, including a ribbon video board, a state-of-the-art sound system and the ability to offer instant replays.
Oh, and new revenue streams also await, something the university's athletic department has long craved. In the end, that's ultimately why the Hurricanes decided to break away from the only home the program had ever known and take advantage of the chance to move into a Super Bowl-worthy facility that the Miami Dolphins and Florida Marlins share as well.
University officials voted a year ago to make the move, despite an offer of $206 million by city officials to renovate one of Miami's best-known landmarks, which has subsequently been dismantled. The Hurricanes could collect as much as $5 million annually through the move, which would be a huge boon to the private school's coffers.
``It'll be different,'' Shannon said. ``But it's a good situation. They did a good job of organizing the new stadium for us. For students, transportation will be easy because we'll have buses to take them up there. There'll be a student parking lot also, so everything we want as far as getting the students there will be better than what we had before.''
The Orange Bowl is 16 1/2 miles north of Miami's campus, and with South Florida traffic, that can mean a commute of up to an hour on certain days.
But the university expects a crowd of at least 55,000 for the opener; only the final Orange Bowl game drew a bigger home crowd a year ago, and that gathering of more than 62,000 left stunned, when Virginia ended Miami's stay in its old building by beating the Hurricanes 48-0.
Maybe the Orange Bowl magic - after all, it was the place where past Hurricanes had put together an NCAA-record 58-game home winning streak - was gone.
``We really didn't want to move. In the end, we had to,'' university president Donna Shalala said that night, when the Hurricanes bid farewell to the Orange Bowl. ``We have a wonderful opportunity and future ahead of us. We want to do the best for our players and for our fans, so we're taking a giant step.''
The significance isn't lost on Charleston Southern, either.
The Buccaneers' home opener last season drew 2,384 fans. They'll see 25 times that many on Thursday night, but with 41 players on the roster from the state of Florida, it's an opportunity they're clearly embracing.
``For our whole team, it's going to be a totally different environment than what they're used to,'' said Charleston Southern quarterback Tribble Reese, a Clemson transfer. ``This is just going to be a completely different experience. Everyone will be amped up for it.''