[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: A Plea For The OB

Monday, July 02, 2007

A Plea For The OB

Recently, the University of Miami announced that it is considering moving from the Orange Bowl to Dolphins Stadium for its home games as early as 2008. I don't blame them.

Well, maybe a little.

The issue at hand here is what to do with the venerable Orange Bowl Stadium. Dan LeBatard says knock the thing down. Greg Cote says it deserves to be saved. The city of Miami, which owns the stadium, has acted year after year as if they don't know what to do with it.

The Orange Bowl is in sad shape. It's embarrassing, actually. Why the city of Miami has allowed the stadium to almost literally fall apart should be a source of shame for anyone involved with city government. UM, the primary tenants, deserves some of the blame too for not being willing to chip in their share.

However, I point my finger once again at the city for incompetence and neglect, and not just the current administration. This has been going on for a few decades now.

Let's talk about the OB's history. Located in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, it was built in 1937. The University of Miami football team has played every season since the beginning. It has hosted 5 Super Bowls, 11 NCAA National Championship Games, Olympic Soccer, World Cup Qualifying matches, etc.

It has also been a focal point for non-sports related activities. Rock concerts, civic gatherings have all been held at the Orange Bowl. JFK's post-Bay of Pigs speech in the Orange Bowl is a part of local and national history. Many a Cuban exile has shed a tear or two at the OB, either while attending emotional rallies or U.S. citizenship ceremonies.

My first game at the Orange Bowl was a meaningless University of Miami vs University of Florida game on a chilly night in the late 70s. Since then, my memories of the place are all good ones. I never saw the home team lose there, whether UM or the Miami Dolphins. The place literally rocks when full. The sight lines are awesome (unless you're stuck behind one of the upper deck support pillars), and the open end view of downtown is second to none.

It should then come as no surprise that I believe the Orange Bowl should be renovated and returned to its past glory. In a region where we too often neglect and tear down our history (yes, we DO have one), the typical knee-jerk reaction is to replace the old with the new. Have these led to improvements? Hardly. Anyone remember the Orange Bowl Parade in downtown on New Year's Eve? It was eliminated shortly after the Orange Bowl game moved up to Dolphins Stadium. Not the most spectacular parade, but it was part of growing up in Miami. What have we replaced it with? That's OK, you can now stop breaking your head thinking about it.

Greg Cote's column is spot on. Am I allowing my emotional attachment to the stadium to cloud my opinion? Yes. Am I wrong for doing so? No. If only more of us would act on our emotional attachment to our communities, perhaps they (and we) would be in better shape. Nothing motivates improvement more than personal attachment and interest. A little care and respect for our history and traditions would have solved the OB mess a long time ago.

The history of the Orange Bowl shouldn't be flushed down the toilet. Shouldn't history and tradition mean something? City of Miami politicians and administrators, many of them which grew up in the shadows of the old stadium and no doubt remember the noise from the crowds spilling through Little Havana on game days, should know the answer to that question. Unfortunately, they've been too busy throwing money away elsewhere.

In all fairness to the city, they have made an offer to UM. However, it could be a case of too little, too late. Here's hoping that's not the case.



Blogger Steven said...

How about tearing down the OB and building a baseball stadium for the Marlins? The 'cane play what 8 or 10 games a year and the Marlins play 80 something. IMHO It would do a lot more for the Miami and the neighborhood if we had a baseball stadium rather than another football stadium.

7:19 PM, July 05, 2007  

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