[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Last Farewell

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Last Farewell

Hello everyone, back from my mini-hiatus. Unplanned, but I guess you can chalk it up to life getting in the way of my blogging schedule.

Now to the topic at hand:

The Orange Bowl hosts its last University of Miami game this evening. As I've written in several previous posts, I am personally saddened to see a 70-year-plus tradition come to an end.

As I stated in those previous posts, it's truly an embarrassment for all self-respecting Miamians that a building where so many great and significant games have been played was allowed to deteriorate and become the shell of what it once was.

Instead of focusing entirely on paving the way for developers to build huge condominiums that are 50 percent full at best, you would think that the powers-that-be in Miami would have spent just a little time showing some much deserved love and care for a national sports treasure. Nope. The folks who allowed this to happen ought to be embarrassed not only for their incompetence, but also for their lack of regard for a significant piece of Miami tradition.

City of Miami politicians, I'm pointing my finger right at YOU.

Arguments that the Orange Bowl has seen better days, that it should be razed, etc. etc., make sense from a practical, pragmatic perspective. Yes, the OB is in terrible shape, and perhaps it was past the point of no return.

Still, that's no excuse for letting it get to that stage. Frankly and simply, the City of Miami politicos allowed it to happen. All I'm asking for is a little care for our local traditions. Someone please tell me why the Miami city commissioners and Mayor, most of whom were born and/or raised not only in the city of Miami, but near the shadows of the old bowl itself, let this happen? Don't they care about the history and tradition of their city, of their OWN history? How many fellow Miamians haven't been to the Orange Bowl and been mesmerized by the electricity in the building?

Those who coldly and pragmatically state that the OB must be razed with little thought for its history and significance see this as a case of "water under the bridge". Perhaps they have bad memories of the place. They accuse those who wanted the OB to be saved as being too nostalgic and stuck in a past that no longer exists.

If care and respect for local history and tradition is such a bad thing...then I'm guilty as charged. What's next: tearing down the Freedom Tower because Cubans don't get processed through there any more? What are we teaching our children and grandchildren when we explain to them that a local landmark was torn down because no one cared about it any more?

OK, enough complaining.

I'm not going to the game tonight because I have other plans. Still, I wouldn't have gone even if I had no plans. I'm not big on celebrating farewells. I don't want my last memory of the Orange Bowl to be one of sadness. I want to remember the Dolphins and Hurricanes games I attended as a child, when lifetime loyalties were formed. I want to remember the OB rocking with glee when, as a 14-year-old, I sat in the west end zone and witnessed UM beating heavily-favored Nebraska to win their first national championship. I want to remember my first Dolphins Monday Night Football game against the Patriots back in the late 70s in that same west end zone. I want to remember Vinny Testaverde stomping all over Oklahoma in 1986. I want to remember sitting in the west end zone and watching cocky and self-righteous Notre Dame get their heads handed to them back in 1989. I want to remember watching the U.S. women's soccer team tie China in front of 55,000 wildly-cheering fans during the 1996 Olympics (yes, I sat in the west end zone for that game too).

I want to remember the open east end zone with the one-and-only view of the palm trees and Miami skyline.

Those are my memories of the old Little Havana bowl.

If there's any solace, it's that it's entirely possible that a new baseball stadium will be built on the same grounds. While not a true replacement for the Orange Bowl, at least it could be place where new loyalties, memories and traditions will be made for future generations.

Let's only hope that the new stadium will be treated with more consideration than its worn-down but noble predecessor.

Good-bye Orange Bowl. You will always have a proud place in history.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Timothy said...

Amen Rob. I am with you. I have been passing the grand old lady for the last few nights on my way to the hospitals across the river and I feel for her impending loss. My one and only game was in 86 when the Jets had THEIR heads handed to them in a Monday night loss. I remember foolishly leaving at half-time only to spend a long 90 minutes waiting for those Dol-Fans to unblock my car so I could leave. It was a unique place, steeped in history and one of the last of the old-breed stadiums situated in working class neighborhoods, not sprawling concrete acres. Rest In Peace, OB.

9:51 PM, November 10, 2007  
Blogger George L. Moneo said...

Double sadness. I went to the game and to see the 'Canes lose 48-0, in addition to it being the last game at the Bowl, was beyond a disappointment.

I disagree with you on the Bowl, though. Other cities have razed similar institutions -- Comiskey Park comes to mind -- and built great new structures. What we need is a jewel of a baseball park, designed and built by the folks who built the new Comiskey and Camden Yard. My $0.02.

9:44 PM, November 11, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

George,

True on other places replacing their traditional structures with new ones (Yankee Stadium is next). Still, this pattern of abandonment of the OB which started with the Dolphins in 1987 is mostly due to the lack of nurturing and care for our local landmarks and traditions. Remember what happened to the Orange Bowl Parade? It's one thing to eventually replace something old with something new as a matter of practicality and staying with the times, but the OB's demise was a simple case of city of Miami politicians not giving a damn because there was no $$$$ to be made.

As I mentioned in the post, if we can get a nice, state of the art baseball facility on that site, then at least not all was lost, and perhaps we could even improve over what was there before.

10:59 AM, November 12, 2007  
Blogger Timothy said...

Carmen and I had a nice conversation about the Orange Bowl parade when all this was in the news. What happened to it? we asked. I remember it was nationally televised when I lived in Delaware and a huge PR boon for Florida. Sigh.
And as for replacing the OB with a "jewel" of a baseball stadium? Won't happen because our local pols will all have their faces in the trough and their constituents providing construction "services" which will result in the worst run, worst maintained new ballpark in America. Can you say "Carnival Center"?

10:27 PM, November 12, 2007  
Blogger Henry Gomez said...

Robert,

I respect your opinion as always but you are wrong on this issue. Yes politicos in Miami let the OB deteriorate, but it's not these present politicos that are guilty. To illustrate this take a look at the following excerpt from a recent article about the OB.

In one meeting filled with powerful Miami officials, Mayor Jack Orr stood against saving the Orange Bowl.

"Decent place to play football," Orr said, "but the Orange Bowl is antiquated."
The significance of that statement?

Orr said those words Nov. 19, 1973.In one meeting filled with powerful Miami officials, Mayor Jack Orr stood against saving the Orange Bowl.

"Decent place to play football," Orr said, "but the Orange Bowl is antiquated."
The significance of that statement?

Orr said those words Nov. 19, 1973.


30 years ago was the time to renovate the then 40 year old OB. 10 years later Joe Robbie realized that the renovations weren't coming and leveraged every bit of his family's wealth to build a state of the art facility. Now Huizenga is spending hundred of millions in updating that facility to ensure it's viable for the next 20 years.

To have two football stadiums in one market makes zero sense. The traditions and the memories are carried in the hearts of the fans not in the crumbling beams of a stadium. Ebbets Field, the polo grounds, Tiger Stadium, Comiskey Park, 3 rivers stadium, what do they all have in common? They are gone. Those places have as much tradition and nostalgia as the OB. Even Yankee stadium will soon be demolished and Fenway park won't be far behind.

A steel structure in south Florida? It doesn't make sense in this day and age.

Besides it won't be high-rise condos that go there, it will be a new ballpark for the marlins. Canes fans and Marlins fans will eventually be much happier with the changes.

7:28 PM, November 13, 2007  

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