Meet Craig Cromer, facilities manager and Hard Rock Stadium hero

Fans celebrate after a cat survived a fall from the 300 level seating area, aided by an American flag outstretched by UM fans, during the first half of Miami’s game versus Appalachian State at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 11, 2021.
Fans celebrate after a cat survived a fall from the 300 level seating area, aided by an American flag outstretched by UM fans, during the first half of Miami’s game versus Appalachian State at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 11, 2021. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

During the second quarter of the Miami Hurricanes’ home opener against Appalachian State, the crowd’s attention suddenly shifted from the game to a cat hanging from the upper deck of Hard Rock Stadium.

Thankfully, Craig Cromer, senior manager of facilities and operations at UM, and his wife Kimberly were there to help save the cat’s life. Cromer recalls first noticing the cat when a phone fell from the seats above him. A nearby security guard found the phone, looked up to see who it belonged to and then pointed up. Cromer was shocked when he gazed up and watched as fans tried to save a cat dangling from the section directly above his seats.

“I assume they were trying to save the cat from above when the cell phone fell. Them trying to save the cat from above, drove the cat further down and they couldn’t reach it,” Cromer said.

The nervous cat began to urinate on some people standing in Cromer’s section as it hung from the upper deck. At this point, Cromer knew he had to do something to help the cat land safely. Cromer and his wife always zip-tie an American flag to the handrail by their seats at the football games, so he ripped the flag out of the zip-ties and decided to use it to help break the cat’s fall.

“I thought it would be difficult to catch a cat with our bare hands so that is when I decided to use our flag,” Cromer said. “That moment was very stressful because I wasn’t sure how effective the flag would be and the students were very passionate about saving the cat.”

After a couple of minutes, the cat finally fell down from the upper deck and Cromer’s flag helped cushion its fall. A student then picked the cat off the ground and hoisted it up like Simba from “The Lion King” as the crowd went berserk.

However, the cat was not happy. Many fans tried reaching for the cat to make sure it was okay but the cat responded by leaving bites and scratches all over them.

“I was extremely relieved that the cat was ok, though I felt bad for the students that were getting bitten and scratched by it,” Cromer said.

A long-time season-ticket holder for the Hurricanes, saving a desperate, falling cat was the most unforgettable experience Cromer has ever had at a Canes game.

“To top off my day, I also spilled Coca-Cola all over my leg. I was both stinky and sticky,” Cromer laughed.