Miami, FL 33125
The stadium was built by the City of Miami Public Works Department. Construction began in 1936 and was completed in December 1937 and featured stadium lights. Prior to completion, the first game was a high school contest on September 24 which saw Edison shut out Ponce de Leon, 36–0 with new lights partially going out, leaving mid-field dark with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The stadium opened for Miami Hurricanes football on December 10, 1937. From 1926 to 1937 the University of Miami played in a stadium near Tamiami Park and also at Moore Park until the Orange Bowl was built.
Orange Bowl, outside of west end zone
The Orange Bowl was originally named Burdine Stadium after Roddy Burdine, one of Miami's pioneers and the owner of the Burdines department store chain. It originally seated 23,739 people along the sidelines—roughly corresponding to the lower level of the sideline seats in the stadium's final configuration. Attendance for its first Orange Bowl in January 1938 was under 19,000, but the following year saw over 32,000 in attendance. Seating was added in the end zones in the 1940s, and by the end of the 1950s the stadium was double-decked on the sidelines. In 1966, the AFL expansion Miami Dolphins played their first-ever regular season game in the stadium on September 2. The west end zone upper deck section was then added in the 1960s, bringing the stadium to its peak capacity of 80,010. On January 1, 1965, the Orange Bowl was the first college bowl game to be televised in prime time.
From 1966 to 1968, and again in the 1970s, a live dolphin was situated in a water tank in the open (east) end of the Orange Bowl. He would jump in the tank to celebrate touchdowns and field goals. The tank that was set up in the 1970s was manufactured by Evan Bush and maintained during the games by Evan Bush and Dene Whitaker. Flipper was removed from the Orange Bowl after 1968 to save costs and the 1970s due to stress. In the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Snowflake, a live dolphin who does special behaviors after the Dolphins score a touchdown, was the basis of the film after he is kidnapped as part of a revenge plot against Dan Marino.
In 1977, the permanent seats in the east end zone were removed, and further upgrades brought the stadium to its final capacity and design. The city skyline was visible to the east through the open end, over the modern scoreboard and palm trees. The surface was natural grass, except for six seasons in the 1970s. Poly-Turf, an artificial turf similar to AstroTurf, was installed for the 1970 football season. It was removed and replaced with a type of natural grass known as "Prescription Athletic Turf" after Super Bowl X in January 1976.
In 1980, the stadium was used as a holding facility for Cuban refugees arriving to South Florida during the Mariel Boatlift.
Walkway of the Orange Bowl
Under the leadership of Hall of Fame head coach Don Shula, the Miami Dolphins enjoyed a winning record in the Orange Bowl against rival teams in the AFC Eastern Division. Under Shula, the Dolphins were an impressive 57–9–1 (60–10–1 including playoff contests) against the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts (15–3), the Boston/New England Patriots (15–1), the Buffalo Bills (16–1) and the New York Jets (13–4–1). They have also beaten every visiting franchise at least once, enjoying perfect records against 11 of them. The playoff results against AFC East opponents are: AFC Championship games: (1971, Miami 21, Baltimore 0); (1982, Miami 14, New York Jets 0) and (1985, New England 31, Miami 14) and AFC First round game (1982 strike shortened season, Miami 28, New England 13).
Farewell to the Orange Bowl event on January 26, 2008
Notable winning streaks during the Shula-era in the Orange Bowl include a 13–0 streak against the Buffalo Bills and a 15–0 streak against the New England Patriots, Also of note, the Miami Dolphins enjoyed a record 31-game home winning streak from 1971–75, which includes four playoff wins and the perfect season of 1972. The Dolphins have not enjoyed the same level of success at Hard Rock Stadium. While much of this lack of success at Hard Rock Stadium is obviously attributable to a diminished level of talent and organizational stability, it is also widely recognized that the homefield advantage that the Dolphins enjoyed in the Orange Bowl was exponentially greater than in their newer home. This was in great part due to the atmosphere of the Orange Bowl. The closeness of the seats to the field, along with the closed West End Zone, metal bleachers, and steel structure (and of course the team's success and its status as Miami's only professional sports team for so many years), made the Bowl one of the loudest and most electric stadiums in the NFL. Visiting team quarterbacks often complained to referees or were forced to call time out as their teammates could not hear them barking out the signals due to the unbearable noise, especially when the Dolphins were making a goal-line stand in the closed West End Zone. While Hard Rock Stadium is much newer and cleaner and is considered one of the top facilities in the NFL, with top-notch amenities, the seats are set further back from the field than comparable seats at the Orange Bowl. As a result, even at its loudest, Hard Rock Stadium is nowhere near as loud as the Orange Bowl.