Future football home shopping

Story last updated May 14 at 2:05 a.m.

Cheerleaders suited in orange and green, giant hurricane flags and a big white helmet with smoke usually describe the Orange Bowl.

But on Saturday when members of Student Government and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee entered Dolphin Stadium, they were served a taste of what it would be like to have Hurricane football games on a different playing field.

Students who attended described the following:

Upon arriving at the stadium, students exited buses and ran through the tunnels, mimicking football players on game day. They also toured a projected student section, locker rooms and construction sites, which are planned to be completed by August.

In addition to being greeted by Hurricane familiarities, students met the manager of Dolphin Stadium and Wayne Huizinga, owner of the Miami Dolphins.

Danny Carvajal, SG president and one of the students who visited the stadium, told The Miami Hurricane that, prior to his visit, he and other members of SG were initially against the idea of the move from the Orange Bowl.

Carvajal said he changed his mind after speaking with President Donna E. Shalala about the cost benefits of the switch and was fully convinced that the switch would be beneficial after visiting the stadium.

“[The Dolphin Stadium staff] did a great job at making the stadium have a hurricane feeling,” Carvajal said. “They’re showing us how much they really want the Hurricanes to be there over the next few years.”

Though Shalala did not accompany students to the stadium, she was present at Stanford Circle when students returned from the visit. She listened to opinions of the stadium, while impressions were still fresh in students’ minds.

Richard Walker, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and tour organizer, emphasized student input is integral to the decision process. He said Carvajal compiled a list of student reactions and opinions regarding the visit and will present these opinions to Shalala prior to decision-making.

Read a copy of Carvajal’s e-mail letter here: Email letter from SG leaders to UM’s president)

Carvajal said the hardest part about a possible switch will be showing students that a move is beneficial.

Some medical students said they are worried about a move from the Orange Bowl because of traveling inconvenience. Right now, students who live near Miller School of Medicine can walk to football games and not worry about driving, but Carvajal said transportation will not be a problem.

“Parking will be so much easier at Dolphin Stadium,” Carvajal said. “Also [SG] would plan to run buses from campus continually during the game.”

SG Senate Speaker Brandon Gross, who also visited Dolphin Stadium, said the buses traveled from Stanford Circle to Dolphin Stadium in 25 minutes, which is roughly the same amount of time it takes students to travel on the Metrorail and bus before arriving at the Orange Bowl.

Furthermore, if the Hurricanes move from the Orange Bowl, Dolphin Stadium would change names even though the Miami Dolphins would continue to play there on Sundays.

Because most students have never been to Dolphin Stadium, SG also plans to have an open house during the upcoming fall semester in the style of a fan fest. Students would be bused over to the stadium as if it were game day.

Although the university still has a contract with the Orange Bowl, which does not expire until 2009, and no decision has been made regarding a definite switch.

Shalala indicated at a Senate meeting in April her decision would like come during the summer, which Gross said is still the most likely scenario. She is also the one who proposed the trip to the visit the stadium.

Karyn Meshbane may be contacted at k.meshbane@umiami.edu