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Sun Life Stadium
Sun Life Stadium logo
Sun Life Stadium before a Miami Dolphins football ga,e
A Florida Marlins baseball game at 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; 2010)[1]
Land Shark Stadium (2009–2010)
Sun Life Stadium (2010–present)
Location 2267 NW 199th Street
Miami Gardens, Florida 33056
Coordinates Template:CoordTemplate:Geobox coor
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
Architect Populous
Structural engineer Bliss and Nyitray, Inc.
Capacity 47,662 (1993 baseball)*
42,531 (2001 baseball)*
35,531 (2003 baseball)*
36,331 (2006 baseball)*
38,560 (2008 baseball)*
74,918 (soccer)
75,192 (football)
*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)
Florida Marlins (MLB) (1993–present)
University of Miami Hurricanes (NCAA) (2008–present)
Florida Atlantic Owls (NCAA) (2001–2002)
FedEx Orange Bowl (1996–1998), (2000–present)
Blockbuster/Carquest/MicronPC/Champs Sports Bowl (1990–2000)
File:Dolphin Stadium.svg

Sun Life Stadium (previously known as Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, and, most recently, Land Shark Stadium) is a multi-purpose stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, a suburb of Miami. The stadium serves as host to the Miami Dolphins, the Florida Marlins, the Miami Hurricanes, and the annual Orange Bowl college football game.

It is one of three stadiums remaining to house both teams from the National Football League and Major League Baseball, along with Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and Rogers Centre in Toronto, which is a part-time home for the Buffalo Bills and full-time home to the Argonauts of the CFL. With the addition of the Hurricanes, it is the only stadium to house an NFL, MLB and NCAA Division I College Football team.

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.[3]

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).[4]


Conception and constructionEdit

Formerly known as Joe Robbie Stadium, it was the first of its kind in the NFL to be constructed entirely with private funds. Joe Robbie led the financing campaign to build Joe Robbie Stadium (JRS) for the Miami Dolphins of the NFL. JRS revolutionized the economics of professional sports when it opened in 1987. Inclusion of a club level, along with executive suites, helped to finance the construction of the stadium. Season-ticket holders committed to long term agreements; in return, they received first-class amenities in a state-of-the-art facility.


The stadium was designed at Joe Robbie's request to have a wider-than-normal playing field in order to accommodate soccer, and to serve as the home of a potential Major League Baseball franchise in south Florida. 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). While the decision to employ a wider playing field resulted in a Major League Baseball (MLB) expansion franchise for Miami (see below), it resulted in a less intimate venue for football when compared to other contemporary football facilities.

The DolphinsEdit

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 inEdit

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 configurationsEdit

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 expansion 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. Huizenga wanted to 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 had some of the highest postseason attendance figures in MLB history, only exceeded by Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the temporary home of the Los Angeles Dodgers (before Dodger Stadium was opened) in the 1959 World Series.

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 can 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 are not as good for baseball. This was particularly evident during the Marlins' World Series appearances in 1997 and 2003. Some portions of left field and center field are 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.


Partly as a result of the sight-line problems at Sun Life Stadium, the Marlins are planning to move to a new stadium at the site of the Miami Orange Bowl in 2012.[5] Since the 2011 target date was not possible, the Marlins are now looking for a one-year lease before moving into their new stadium in 2012. The Marlins front office has already started negotiating deals with the Dolphins and Hurricanes to make a 1-year deal to stay in Sun Life Stadium.

Aside from baseball renovations, the stadium has undergone some permanent renovations. In April 2006, the stadium unveiled the two largest hi-definition video boards in professional sports, and a new fascia LED ribbon-board, then the largest in the world, but these have since been surpassed in size. In addition, the upgrades include vastly widened 40,000 square-foot 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.[6]

The stadium contains 10,209 club seats (2,400 of which are available for Marlins games) and 216 suites (88 of which are available for Marlins games).

Notable eventsEdit



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. 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.[7]


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

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.

The stadium also plays host biennially to the yearly Shula Bowl, a game played between Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University, when the game is hosted by FAU (FIU hosts the game at their own stadium, FIU Stadium, every other year).


Two National League Division Series have been played at Dolphin Stadium.

Two National League Championship Series have been played at Dolphin Stadium.

Two World Series have been played at Dolphin 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.

On May 29, 2010 Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history against the Florida Marlins.


The stadium has been the site of many concerts, featuring such entertainers as U2, Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Flo Rida, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Billy Joel, Chicago, Genesis, Gloria Estefan, Prince, The Police, Guns N' Roses, The Who, Hall & Oates, Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, Madonna & The Three Tenors, among others.

U2 will perform at the stadium on June 29, 2011 on their U2 360 Tour. The show was originally to be held on July 9, 2010, but had to be postponed following Bono's emergency back surgery.

Other eventsEdit

Other events held at the stadium have included international soccer games, monster truck shows, Hoop-It-Up Basketball, RV and boat shows, the UniverSoul Circus, Australian rules football exhibition matches, and numerous trade shows.

In 2006, it hosted the High School State Football Championships, sanctioned by the FHSAA Florida High School Athletic Association. 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.

Also Sun Life Stadium along with the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA were among the finalists to host WWE's WrestleMania XXVII in 2011. On February, 1st, 2010 it was announced that Atlanta would host WrestleMania XXVII.[8] Despite failing to win the chance to host WrestleMania XXVII, Miami has made it apparent that they weren't going to give up on trying to win the chance to host a Wrestlemania.

Naming rightsEdit

The stadium has gone through many name changes, bringing up the overall question of the value of corporate naming rights.[9]

Initially, the 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.[10]

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 rename 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.[11]

On January 20, 2010, the financial firm Sun Life officially announced that they had acquired the naming rights, and Land Shark Stadium became Sun Life Stadium.[12]



Notes and referencesEdit

  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 on 2009-05-11.
  2. Ross' percentage is approximate. Small stakes are also known to be owned by the following sports and entertainment celebrities:
  3. 2010 Pro Bowl moving to Miami, will be played before Super Bowl. Retrieved on 2008-12-30.
  5. The Marlins' lease with Dolphin Stadium expires after the 2010 baseball season. For the 2011 season, before their projected move to their new ballpark, they are still looking for a place to play, but are "optimistic" they can get an extension of the lease with Dolphin Stadium. Frisaro Joe. "New Marlins stadium to open in 2012",, 2008-11-25. Retrieved on 2009-01-11.

External linksEdit

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