It has been a persistent complaint ever since the Orange Bowl shut her gates for the last time in 2007. Somehow, someway, Miami needs to get its own on-campus stadium.
Just about every major football program has one on or relatively near its home site; very rarely do teams and fans need to travel 40 minutes outside their comfort zone to be able to support their team.
Over the past few days, an online petition has been passed around trying to garner support for such a stadium somewhere in the southern Miami-Dade area – if not in Coral Gables, than at least somewhere much closer than Sun Life Stadium. In just over 24 hours, the petition was picked up and passed around on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and garnered more than 1,700 virtual signatures.
The idea is, on its own, a righteous one. Miami is a major program and a new stadium might reenergize a fan base that on most days feels lethargic about such a long commute. After losing out on the Orange Bowl, such a stadium could be a new place for new traditions and bring about an outpouring of support that could never be attained at Sun Life Stadium. It would be a great thing to see. But we’ll never see it.
In a city where construction plagues just about every street and highway in sight, I cannot envision any way that the city would willingly agree to put down the funding for such a project. With all the backlash that came about from building the Marlins’ new stadium, which was erected right where the Orange Bowl used to be, most taxpayers won’t exactly be lining up to give up more of their own cash.
But let’s ignore that part. Let’s assume that the city of Miami somehow decides that it is in their best interest to give the Canes a new home, and everyone is behind it. Assuming that hurdle is passed (it won’t be), then there’s the entire issue of location. There’s no space in Coral Gables to build it, and even so, zoning laws here are incredibly strict and would be very complicated.
A popular location that has been mentioned is Tropical Park over in Westchester. This seems to make sense compared to other ideas, but that isn’t saying much. Though it would be easily accessible, it’s in the middle of two major streets right off of some large residential areas. Plus, you’d be asking a large number of youth baseball and soccer teams, among others, to relocate to other areas as well. It’s not a viable spot.
As much as we would all love to see the Canes with their own place to call home, it is something that’s easier to talk about than to actually get done. There’s too much to overcome before even the smallest move toward building it can be accomplished. As unfortunate as it is, Miami is only in the fourth year of a 25-year lease with Sun Life Stadium. The best thing fans can do right now is to continue to try and give the team the support that would be seen at an on-campus stadium. Continue to create as much of a home-field advantage as possible, even if it’s the same stadium shared by that pitiful NFL team that chooses to give recognition to college football teams not from Coral Gables.