Sun Life Stadium
Miami Gardens, FL
Seahawks vs. Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins Stadium
November 9, 2008
21 - 19 Win
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Capacity: 76,500 seats
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Draft Beer: $7.00
Hot Dog: $5.00
Stadium Parking: $40.00
2269 Dan Marino Boulevard
Miami Gardens, FL 33056
Stadium Review - The Olive Branch
Sun Life Stadium is home to the Miami Dolphins franchise with a storied history of NFL success and a proud nation of die hard supporters. Now although culturally, the phish are my sworn enemy, due certain loyalties to a rival up north (you guys know I'm a die hard Bills fan), as a self-appointed ambassador of the NFL product I love, I realized putting my home team bias on hold and embracing the Miami Dolphins franchise, if only for a day, is the right thing to do. As it turns out, embracing the culture of south Florida football, including some fantastic tailgating and the fine fans I encountered, was much easier than even I would have expected. If you think about it, Miami has it all. Great weather, an excellent NFL facility, and let's face it, a team that's on the rise after years of cellar dwelling in the AFC East along side my Buffalo Bills. It's the warmth of the south Florida fan and the support of a fan-friendly organization that makes Miami so damned tough to hate.
I arrived in Miami just before 9:00am with Jason, who also accompanied me to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego last year. Donning my number 23 Ronnie Brown jersey, I briefly noted the parallelism between the number on my chest and the fact that Sun Life Stadium would be my 23rd NFL venue on the Quest for 31. As we parked the car, I was amazed to find that each parking space actually has a 10'x10' tailgating area that's clearly marked located behind the space. It's worth mentioning that Sun Life Stadium is the only stadium in the NFL (that I've seen) that actually sets aside this type of tailgating real estate for it's fans. Some franchises are so concerned with boosting their own concession sales that they actually install measures to discourage fan tailgating in and around the facility, so this is a significant gesture on the part of the Miami Dolphins.
I found the parking lot to be easily accessible from main roads. There were plenty of spaces available and plenty of port-a-john facilities located throughout the parking area on gameday. To ensure a good spot in the better tailgating areas, it's best to purchase a parking pass in advance, but you can also pay for parking on gameday if necessary. The Dolphins also host a great NFL experience for the kids that allows them to participate in pass, punt and kick drills, jump around in inflatable bouncers, and test the true limitations of their natural athletic ability. Parents will find plenty of shaded lounge areas nearby (for sipping on cocktails or debating the finer points of the Wildcat formation), as the kids are thoroughly entertained with their own activities including facepaint artists stationed in the area.
As for Tailgating, I hooked up with the pros from Finatics.com, providers of the premiere tailgating experience in south Florida. The Finatics are a diverse group of Dolphin fans, including seasoned Dolphin supporters (folks that have followed Miami since the 1970's), modern era fans, and transplants from up north. These folks are extremely knowledgeable, well connected, and fantastic hosts. We ate well, we drank well, we were thoroughly entertained. It was definitely a warm reception all around.
As I walked through the parking lot, I noticed fans were incredibly respectful and welcoming. Offers for beer and food were more than we could entertain, but being the true Quester that I am, I attempted to field every one. We ate banana pancakes and plantains with Robbie and Dave from Hallandale Beach, pulled pork sandwiches and shrimp kabobs from Alan and Steve, and popped in on a parking lot pig roast with Davy and Paully. There was no end to the creativity that was Miami Dolphins Tailgating.
Sun Life Stadium itself is an equally impressive facility. Host to Super Bowl XLI and Super Bowl XLIV, special renovations were undertaken in preparation for the Super Bowl to make this aging facility more conducive to the needs of the modern fan. There are several stadiums throughout that league that could actually benefit from the lessons learned in Miami. Instead of demolishing and building a monster facility, expansion projects like the one at Sun Life Stadium can actually prolong the relevance and usability of these older facilities, saving the organization and taxpayer the expense of a complete rebuild. Prior to the renovations, Sun Life Stadium was much like many of the other older venues in the NFL. Tight concourses made for crowded lines at concession stands and a scoreboard the size of a my flatscreen TV at home, hosted postage stamp sized replays that you had to squint to to see. The 2007 renovations opened up the concourses, expanded the suites, and provided the common areas that have been a hugely successful in many of the monster facilities built in recent years. The food is fairly standard, but there is a noticeable Hispanic influence in the available selections. Empanadas, frozen sangria, and other local delights dot the menu, but most intriguing are the "arepas" that can be found in specialty stands in the concourse. An arepa is part cornbread pancake and part grilled cheese sandwich, as mozzarella cheese is melted between two circular corn bread cakes ... definitely worth a try.
As for the game, the Dolphins handled their business in what could easily have been a trap game against a weaker opponent. Chad Pennington, Ronnie Brown, and Ricky Williams ran the Wildcat formation to perfection, producing 21 points en route to a much deserved 21 - 19 win over the visiting Seattle Seahawks. The seats I scored from TicketCity.com were excellent and the atmosphere electric. Ted Ginn Jr's touchdown catch in the first quarter set the tone for the day as Miami battled to maintain it's position with the pack in the AFC East. With a solid quarterback under center, a ground game that grinds out the clock, and their traditionally stingy, solid play on defense, the Dolphins have once again proven that they are a force to be reckoned with in the AFC East.
|City of Miami Local Information|
Top Tourist Attractions:
South Beach (Beaches during the day, Clubs at night)
Everglades Tour on an Airboat
Cuban cuisine, Alligator meat, Frog legs
What They're Drinkin':
Orange Parking Lot
Pocket Map of Miami
Stadium Parking Map
Local Sports Media:
The Miami Herald
South Beach (Purdy Lounge, BED, Cameo, Jazid, Dream, Fat Tuesday,
Mango's Tropical Cafe)
Downtown (Space, PS 14, White Room, Parkwest Nightclub, Nocturnal)
Compare Prices for
Football Tickets Here:
Click on the following links for Miami Dolphins ticket availability at each of the top online ticket brokers on the web. Try each link to find the cheapest NFL ticket prices:
|The day begins||Excellent Addition||Dan Marino and Don Shula|
|One Big Fella||Irony by the Numbers||Loungin'|
|Mr. Fintastic||The fin is a nice touch||Quest for 31 Flag marking our spot|
|Dave and Robbie Mixin' Rum Runners||Juvenile? Yes. But fun, you betcha!||Debbie celebrated her 350th consecutive game|
|The view from here ain't so bad||Looking for a win||the lower level is much nicer|
|Arepas!!!!||How about that Wildcat Formation||Stadium #23 - Sun Life Stadium|
Please feel free to post any suggestions or comments you might have for my journey to Sun Life Stadium, including the following:
- Local Hotspots (Bar Districts, Restaurants, Clubs)
- Local Foods (Traditional Cuisine, Micro Brews)
- Tailgating Traditions
- Your Experiences or Helpful Hints
- If you saw me let me know!
All commentary will be moderated. Your e-mail address will not be published.
Sean from Miami
Sent: Monday, October 19, 2009 4:40 PM
the best way to get a parking pass beforehand is
on ebay or craigslist. The price is the same as a broker site (30-40)
but there is no service fee that broker sites charge. Be prepared and
have one beforehand....it's worth the 40 bucks
Tami from fort myers
Sent: Saturday, September 05, 2009 10:11 AM
I am going crazy trying to
find out about purchasing parking in advance for the 9/21 MNF game. Any
help would be really appreciated. Thanks! First time driving over
from the west coast.
Tami, link on the links to one of the online ticket brokers above. They generally sell parking passes for purchase.
Mark Lowther from West Palm Beach,
Sent: Fri, July 10, 2009 09:56 EST
You coming back to Land Shark for a game in '09? If so, hope you find your way back
to the same spot in the orange lot. We'll be there!
Hey Mark, it doesn't look like I'm gonna make it back this year, but eventually I'll be back in your neck of the woods. Did you see the video on YouTube? Just look up "questfor31".
Janet White from Hollywood, FL
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2008 13:36:18 EST
I met you Sunday, 11/9 at the Miami Dolphins game. I was with my son and all our tailgating friends. My friend Debbie is the one who is celebrating her 350 consecutive Dolphin game this coming week. She has never missed a home game since 1974. Good luck on your Quest for 31. It was a pleasure meeting you and look us up next time you are in Miami.
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 18:28:10 EST
It was a pleasure to meet you and share our tailgate and stadium. I'm glad that you had a great time. On the Finatics web site, I have added a link and thanks to our "Sites We Recommend" page. Check it out when you have a chance!
Good luck on the rest of your journey! Peace!