I love the Orange Bowl. And a year from now, I will have no problem saying that I loved the Orange Bowl. But the time has come. Not for the Orange Bowl to go, but for us to stop pretending that it was more than what it is: an antiquated, uncomfortable stadium that took away from a game experience as much as it gave. Imagine this: When top football recruits come to The U (after some quality time on South Beach) they are brought to the Orange Bowl for their grand introduction. With music blaring, each player’s name comes up on the OB’s scoreboard as he trots out through our infamous smoke machine,which may or may not have been a gift from Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.
Or how about this great memory: UM has just beaten a top-flight opponent, but the stadium is only filled halfway to capacity because the opponent is not from Tallahassee (and I’m not talking about FAMU’s marching band either). Shimmying your way back to the bus after being viciously attacked by the simmering September sun, you can’t wait to bathe yourself in aloe vera, which is just a short bus trip (…and Metro Rail trip … and lengthy walk) away. How great can it ever be if it isn’t on campus?
What exactly was the great part of that experience? The chicken fingers? (A perfectly acceptable answer; they are delicious.)
I know there’s a lot of tradition in the Orange Bowl, from Griese to the elder Winslow to Dorsey to the younger Winslow, but tradition surrenders to business when it comes to modern sport. Tradition hasn’t held us back from toppling over some of the greats like Tiger Stadium (if you know what a trough urinal is, you surely don’t miss it) or the Boston Garden (the infamous obstructed-view seats). And while some may believe that we gave up on those relics, they aren’t being realistic about keeping an athletic department afloat at a private university where academics come first.
I applaud UM for making the unpopular decision to move forward-to Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens. When recruits come to town, they can walk through the nostalgic 80’s smoke machine to see-not their names-but their faces on an enormous video screen.
When your skin starts to peel off in the heat and humidity of South Florida, you can seek refuge in the air-conditioned corridors.
And I’m pretty sure they’ll still have chicken fingers.
Class of 2006