In two weeks, the University of Miami Hurricanes will kick off a new season inside a freshly renovated stadium, which underwent a $500 million face-lift. Now that home field, most recently known as New Miami Stadium but still called Dolphins Stadium by most, has a new name: Hard Rock Stadium.
The Fins are expected to announce the name change this afternoon. And on the face of things, Hard Rock Stadium is certainly an upgrade on some of the previous corporate sponsors at the field. (Let's all just forget those years when the stadium name honored a certain watery Jimmy Buffett beer.)
But there is one downside to a Hard Rock sponsorship: It gives one of UM's biggest rivals some prime fodder for trash-talking. And Florida State fans wasted little time before trolling the Canes over the new stadium moniker.
You see, the full name of the hotel and casino behind the deal is the Seminole Hard Rock, which is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. FSU's mascot, of course, is the Seminole.
The jokes are really writing themselves here, even if the word "Seminole" is simply implied in the new stadium name.
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So how did Hard Rock end up winning the naming rights to the stadium? Presumably, the casino threw a boatload of cash at the Dolphins, but the team has declined to release any details of the deal before today's news conference. (Neither the Fins nor a Hard Rock spokesperson responded to calls from New Times.)
Team owner Stephen Ross tells the Miami Herald that he had several suitors for the revamped stadium but liked the ring of "Hard Rock Stadium."
All FSU Twitter trolling aside, the real question for the Canes is whether the renovations — plus a new coaching staff led by Mark Richt — will help draw more fans to a stadium that has often looked cavernously empty during college game days. The upgrades include overhanging awnings meant to add shade that could make sweltering early-season Saturdays more bearable.
Neither literal nor figurative shade tied to the home field will have as much effect on attendance, of course, as whether Richt can inject some competitive life into the Canes.