Over the course of the current NFL offseason, Hard Rock Stadium has received its third round of renovations. While the latest changes may not be as visible or dramatic as those from previous rounds, the stadium will debut some new features for Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes’ games this fall.
To understand the full extent of the Hard Rock Stadium upgrades, one would have to go back to the period immediately following the 2014 NFL season. At that point, renovations to what was then known as Sun Life Stadium were beginning—with the goal being to transform a 1980’s-era stadium into a venue with a sleeker, more modern design and new amenities.
In the first phase, the stadium received a complete overhaul to its seating. A more intimate seating bowl led to a reduced capacity—the total dropped from 76,018 to 65,326—while the stadium received an increased number of unique seating experiences, including living-room style boxes. This also resulted in a new color scheme, as orange seats were stripped from the seating bowl and replaced with teal.
While that phase of the renovation had its own effect on the stadium, it was the second set of renovations that may have been the most dramatic. Prior to the 2016 season, the stadium received a new canopy that covered an estimated 92% of the seating bowl. Along with the new shelter, fans were provided with a significant technology upgrade—the installation of four new 1,472-inch corner videoboards, with each corner area receiving a new patio space.
It was also during the months leading up to the 2016 season that the facility became Hard Rock Stadium, as Hard Rock International was announced as the stadium’s new naming rights partner last August.
The renovations added over the previous two years—combined with the new name—gave Hard Rock Stadium a different look and feel throughout the 2016 season. Leading into 2017, fans can anticipate more upgrades.
Over this offseason, some of the changes at Hard Rock Stadium centered around the suite and club levels. This includes new designs and upgrades in every suite.
Work has also been taking place in the parking lot. New walkways and promenades are being added to help connect attendees to the stadium, while the lot is being equipped with SunPass, which can be used for payment.
The stadium has also been in the spotlight for reasons other than football. El Clasico Miami, the match between Real Madrid and Barcelona, will take place at the venue on Saturday, and Hard Rock Stadium has hosted several major concerts this summer—including performances by Coldplay, Metallica, and U2.
Fittingly, the dramatic changes are falling into place as the stadium gears up for a major anniversary. It was on August 16, 1987 that the Dolphins opened Joe Robbie Stadium for a preseason game against the Chicago Bears. Nearly 30 years and several name changes later, Hard Rock Stadium has been modernized for a new era, one in which it could emerge as a fine venue for football and other major events.
This article first appeared in the weekly Football Stadium Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? It’s free, and you’ll see features like this before they appear on the Web. Go here to subscribe to the Football Stadium Digest newsletter.