Itinerant Fan

Hard Rock Stadium

For a 30-year-old stadium that has seen more than its fair share of major sports moments, the football venue in Miami originally known as Joe Robbie Stadium has witnessed quite a bit of change. Thanks to a revolving door of corporate naming sponsors, it has sported eight different names, from the plain (Dolphin Stadium) to the ludicrous (Land Shark Stadium). It went from a state-of-the-art football-only venue to a multipurpose football/baseball stadium and then back again.

And it has undergone a few renovations, but none more dramatic than the two-year refurbishment it underwent prior to the 2016 season, when seats were removed from all four corners of the upper seating bowl in favor of four large videoboards; every seat was replaced, the color going from orange to aqua; and a massive canopy was installed over the seating area to protect the majority of fans in case of inclement weather (of which Miami frequently has).

The venue now has a new name, Hard Rock Stadium, to go along with all the new bells and whistles. In addition to its usual duties hosting the Dolphins, Hurricanes and the Orange Bowl, it has already been chosen to host its sixth Super Bowl, in 2020. For a stadium with so much history in the NFL, college football and MLB, there’s still more memories yet to be made.

  •   The Approach

    Miami is a notoriously car-dependent area, and thus if you’re going to a game at Hard Rock Stadium you probably should have a car. The stadium is not in Miami proper but rather in Miami Gardens, a suburb nestled between Miami and Fort Lauderdale; from downtown Miami the stadium is about 15 miles away.

    The easiest route to the stadium is via Florida’s Turnpike, a north-south toll road that connects with Interstate 95 just south of the stadium site. After passing through the stadium toll plaza, which every car that exits Florida’s Turnpike must do, turn right onto NW 199th Street, aka Dan Marino Boulevard, and the stadium will be on the right (but by then you’ll already know that, since it’s right there). You can find more detailed driving directions here.

    The stadium is surrounded by a massive parking lot. Most of the parking areas closest to the venue itself are permit-only; however, there are cash lots on the west, east and south sides. As of the 2016 season, it cost $40 to park in a cash lot, though discounts and advance purchase options are available.

    Stuck without a car? Good luck getting to the game. Miami’s MetroBus system runs a few routes nearby but no special-event transportation is offered. Your best bet is to hire a taxi or a ride-sharing service.

  •   The Build-Up

    Booking.com

    Well, with such a large parking lot surrounding the stadium, you’re gonna get quite the tailgate scene. There’s a lot of space to move around and set up your pregame party, even if there are a few restrictions. Meanwhile, the Dolphins do typically hold pregame parties of their own outside the stadium gates, complete with games, live music and more. A list of activities can be found here, though it’s unclear how plans will change with the stadium renovation.

    If you’d rather venture out on your own, your choices are limited in the immediate stadium area, which is largely residential. There are a few strip malls along NW 27th Avenue west of the stadium, where you can find a Denny’s and a Pollo Tropical, among other eateries. The Calder Race Course and an adjoining casino are a few blocks to the north, as well.

  •   The Ambiance

    From the outside, Hard Rock Stadium shows a little bit of its age, in the form of its concrete edifice and the set of circular ramps at each corner — typically a tell-tale sign that the venue was built in the 1980s or earlier. Other than that, though, the stadium’s overseers have done a good job keeping the building up-to-date over the years, giant renovation or not, with the addition of things like a Dolphins Hall of Fame and statues of one-time team owner Joe Robbie, legendary coach Don Shula and Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino.


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    Inside, the more recent improvements should be more evident. In addition to the large concourses that were already present, the stadium now boasts bar and standing-room areas underneath the four videoboards in the upper seating bowl. The Dolphins promise that 92 percent of seats will be protected from the sun by the shade canopy at the time of a 1 p.m. kickoff. Indeed, early photos and renderings seem to show the stadium has the look of a modern soccer facility (and there’ll be plenty of soccer being played here, as well).

    The stadium’s concessions options have been undergoing an overhaul in recent years as well, with the introduction of a handful of local restaurants. Among the newer stands: Popular Cuban restaurant Versailles peddles Cuban sandwiches at Hard Rock Stadium stands; Bodega Taqueria y Tequila sells tacos; BurgerFi offers burgers, fries and onion rings; and Kosher Central sells deli-style pastrami and corned beef sandwiches.

The Particulars

Home Teams
Miami Dolphins
Miami Hurricanes

Address
2269 NW 199th St
Miami Gardens, FL 33056

Year Opened
1987

Capacity
65,326

Upcoming Events
All times local
Metallica with Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat
Friday, July 7, 2017
6:00 pm
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Paris Saint-Germain F.C. vs Juventus F.C.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
8:30 pm
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El Clasico Miami: Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona
Saturday, July 29, 2017
7:30 pm
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Preseason: Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
Thursday, August 10, 2017
7:00 pm
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Preseason: Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins
Thursday, August 17, 2017
7:00 pm
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