Stadiums have vibes. There was a hot, humid night in Miami, back in 2001, when the Hurricanes of the University of Miami were playing against their cross-state rivals, the Seminoles of Florida State. That night I was an undergraduate student in the stands of the historic Orange Bowl, in Little Havana. That night was epic on so many levels, but not because the Hurricanes won at the very last minute, but more because of the buzz in the air I felt the entire time I was in the stadium.
Stadiums have all kinds of vibes. Look at Wrigley Field and the vibe it’s had for so long, maybe cursed, maybe not after last season. Take for instance Fenway Park, the oldest stadium out there, a pillar of consistency and an icon of the Boston experience. Madison Square Garden. Candlestick Park. The Astrodome. The list goes on and on.
Sans the pomp and flair that Wrigley, or Fenway, or any of the ancient baseball parks have, that was all fine and good for them, but we didn’t have that. A testament to the flair is that these places still stand. But we did have this one place: the Orange Bowl.
I’ll tell you, the vibe you felt as a kid walking into the Orange Bowl was incredible, almost indescribable. The sights, the sounds, the smells even (some not great but hey the place was almost 75 years old!), all gave the place an incredible character. The original stadium built in 1936 was actually named Burdine’s stadium after Roddy Burdine, a Miami pioneer, and it was later renamed Orange Bowl in 1937. Roddy was the son of William Burdine who opened up Burdine’s as a dry goods store in the late 1800’s. The place the Dolphins called home for 21 years, and won their undefeated season in 1972, a record that still stands today. The place where the Miami Hurricanes won FIVE National Championships, and legends were made. And we tore it down!
OK, OK,…1936 was a looong time ago, and in short, the stadium was old and for many reasons needed to go. Deemed too expensive to upgrade, and for other profitable reasons, the city demolished it in favor of the new Marlins Park.
As a wee lad (six years old) I used to go to the Pawtucket Red Sox games with my old man. Looking back on it it’s one of the only real Father-Son things I did with my father before my parents got divorced. Even though I was just a kid, those memories stuck with me. The field, the smell of the grass, the hot dogs, the sound of the wooden bat cracking as it made contact with the ball. My kid brother falling asleep in the 3rd inning. For the record he still falls asleep everywhere. He actually fell asleep at the IMAX during the first Transformers movie, which is borderline impossible with all of the noise and lights in that massive theater.
We didn’t have a baseball team down here in South Florida, but once the Florida Marlins arrived, my family and I became fans from day one. Such fans, to give you an idea, we buried my grandfather Pipo with his signature Florida Marlins cap, because he loved listening to them so much and he always wore his Marlins cap everywhere he went.
As a Dolphins fan, I was sad to see the home of the undefeated season demolished. I was sad that I’d never get to go back and watch the Canes win another game, or walk up through the ramps and feel the stadium shake, listen to the metal cringe, listen to the crowd’s roar come down the tunnels. You felt like it could fall apart at any moment. I’ll miss that, too.
But another part of me is happy we’ve got a new place to make some new memories.
I bought season tickets for next year (2018). My wife is a sports fan, but took some convincing: I won her over by taking her to the park and showing her the retractable roof and citing the very important fact that it’s got air conditioning. If it’s Miami, it HAS TO have air conditioning.
I’ve never had season tickets before so this is a first for me. I’m kind of proud of that. I’m confident that the ground Marlins Park was built on has soaked in a sufficient level of “vibes” from both the Fins and the Canes to carry anything built upon its hallowed ground in a positive way for another 75 years. I’ll take my son there, to see the sights, smell the grass (and the cafecito from Latin American Grill), watch the Marlins win or lose, but most importantly to leave him with something he can look back on for the rest of his life – a moment in time with Mom and Dad.