“You don’t come into the OB, baby. We’ve had a down couple of years but you don’t come in here talking smack. Not in our house.”
Those are the words of Lamar Thomas, former ‘Cane great and employee of Comcast Sports South (ex-employee, after uttering them).
While the words came during the FIU brawl, and were about the team on the field, they could also be used to describe the field that the events were taking place on.
The Orange Bowl has had a couple of down years. The bowl game for which it took its name moved up I-95 to Originally Joe Robbie Stadium. Repeated hurricanes have caused damage to the structure, almost causing city officials to close it. Now, its fate isn’t in the hands of nature, but in the hands of the Miami City Commission. Don’t you feel better knowing city government is there to solve the problem? The OB might have a better chance against the 100 M.P.H. winds.
It’s been repeated so much that itseems like a broken record. Let’s all sing it together, shall we?
“Orange Bowl renovations have been delayed, and the city can’t cover the cost.”
Dating back to 2004, when the city, who owns the stadium and leases it to UM, approved a $50 million bond to cover renovations, there’s been an impasse between the two. As time passes, construction costs increase, and the pool of money doesn’t grow much bigger.
Now, the difference between the city’s estimated costs is double what the university has available. Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez estimates renovations to cost twice the available $84 million.
What seems to be lost in the haze is how important the Orange Bowl is to the university and the city. Starting in 1937, when it was Burdine Stadium, the Hurricanes called the stadium home.
That place is where Miami earned their first bowl victory, a 13-6 upset of Holy Cross in 1946, on an interception returned as time ran out.
That place is where, after being left for dead, a man named Howard Schnellenberger swept in and promised to bring Miami football to the national stage.
That place is where Schnellenberger delivered upon his promise, and upset the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the greatest bowl game of all time, 31-30, earning Miami their first national championship in 1984.
That place is where two more championships were won, giving Miami the unique opportunity of actually winning a football championship on its home field.
That place is the home of the streak, the smoke, Hurricane Warning and everything great about Miami football.
With talks of the move springing up, everything is put into focus. Are the city of Miami and this university willing to let the Orange Bowl become a shell of greatness, a former home to thousands of fans, and millions of memories?
I know this may not take financial factors into consideration, but I think some things are more important than money.
According to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, a UM alum, university officials want a decision within 60 days.
There is no time to delay.
President Shalala and the city need to work together to get beyond this impasse. Action must be taken. We simply cannot let the OB down. This doesn’t just come from the fact that many students, including myself, don’t want to make the trek that far northward.
That place downtown is the stuff of legends, and if this university hopes to continue to build tradition into the 21st century, it must honor and preserve the tradition built and loved in the past.
Work together. Find the money. Make concessions. History is in the balance.
Matthew Bunch may be contacted at email@example.com.