Sports

Five Reasons Home Is Where the Miami Hurricanes Already Play

UM head coach Mario Cristobal and his Hurricanes don't need a new stadium, they need to play better football.
UM head coach Mario Cristobal and his Hurricanes don't need a new stadium, they need to play better football. Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images
For as long as Starbucks has been hawking overpriced pumpkin-spice lattes, Miamians have debated whether the University of Miami requires a stadium close to its campus in order to return to past glory. The calls for the Hurricanes to break ground on the stadium near its Coral Gables home base have only grown louder following the team's embarrassing 45-31 upset loss to Middle Tennessee State.

Since moving from the Orange Bowl to Sun Life Stadium (now Hard Rock Stadium) in Miami Gardens in 2008, the Hurricanes have been, for the most part, abysmal. And when abysmal happens, fans, by nature, look for answers. Even if those answers come in the form of concrete and steel, not, you know, better footballing.

But it's not just Twitter-fingered fans clamoring for a new home, it's people such as the school's biggest booster, billionaire John H. Ruiz, who has already put forth a plan to build a football stadium for the University of Miami at Tropical Park, three miles west of UM's campus.

Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, its fanbase, and Ruiz, Hard Rock Stadium isn't to blame. UM doesn't need a campus-adjacent stadium.

Students? What Students?

Why build a college football stadium near the school's campus? One can only assume Ruiz and others in favor of doing so believe it would make it easier for students to attend on game day.

That makes sense at, say, Florida State University, where a large percentage of the student body of 45,000-plus live on campus or on their own in the shadow of Doak S. Campbell Stadium.

On the other hand, roughly 17,000 students are enrolled at UM. Of those students, only 4,199 live on campus. Last year the Hurricanes averaged 43,698 fans at Hard Rock.

Size Matters

Many proponents of a Coral Gables stadium point to the fact that Hard Rock is too big, thus making an average UM crowd appear sparse. That may be a valid angle to take if Ruiz wasn't himself saying as much, while at the same time proposing a 65,000-seat stadium.

It's unclear how many seats would actually be ideal for the Hurricanes, but one thing is for sure — anything over 45,000 seats is excessive until the product on the field improves.

Gameday Atmosphere Is Built, Not Bought

After seeing the atmosphere at Hard Rock Stadium following the Dolphins' win over the Buffalo Bills last weekend, you'd think most Hurricanes fans would be able to figure out that all it takes to duplicate it is a big win. If the Miami Hurricanes need a smaller stadium closer to the kids' algebra classrooms, they have bigger issues.

UM doesn't need a stadium to create a great atmosphere. It needs a product on the field that is worth coming out to see win, and win on a regular basis.

Hard Rock Stadium Offers a Huge Recruiting Advantage

What high school gridiron hopeful wouldn't want to play on the same field in the same building where the Miami Dolphins will play 24 hours later? It's absurd to think Miami will ever create a better atmosphere than most small-town schools, so why wouldn't the school lean in to the fact that they play in a world-class building where most athletes dream of playing?

The Hurricanes have a massive advantage in being able to sell to 17-year-olds an opportunity to play on a field that hosts everything from sold-out Super Bowls to Lady Gaga concerts. Why some fans want to trade that in for a dedicated college venue in Coral Gables is hard to figure out.

Logistics

Getting in and out of a stadium is an ordeal, even when it's a world-class venue like Hard Rock Stadium that's conveniently located in close proximity to a major highway. Cramming 50,000 people into a makeshift new stadium in Coral Gables is a recipe for disaster, and likely a major turnoff to Hurricanes fans who make the trip from Broward and Palm Beach for home games.

If the Hurricanes truly think a new stadium will solve all their problems, maybe they should take a meeting with the Marlins, who now play on the sod their old home, the Orange Bowl, once occupied.
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.

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