The Miami Dolphins began play in 1966 and for the first twenty years of their existence they
played their home games  in the historic Orange Bowl. After two NFL titles, one perfect
season, and a twenty game win streak over a certain NFL team the Dolphins decided that
playing in a stadium that created more revenue was an absolute necessity. And hence in
1987 they moved into Joe Robbie Stadium, a brand new state of the art facility on the
northern border of Miami. Significant renovations were made in the early nineties for the
arrival of the MLB Marlins, and by the mid nineties the corporate naming craze made its way
to this venue as it was officially renamed Pro Player Stadium.

Getting to the venue

Pretty simple to get to as the Florida Turnpike and I-195 all lead you right to Pro Player
Stadium, which straddles the Dade/Broward County lines. Permit parking is located close to
the stadium while farther away across the street there are cash lots charging 20 dollars.

Outside the venue

In this area of north Dade County, there is little in terms of adjoining neighborhoods. Just
wide boulevards and expressways taking you into the stadium property. Tailgating is
encouraged here, and in an interesting twist the lots are full of canvas canopies. That's
right, your typical Dol-fans bring along a canopy to shield themselves from the oppressive
sun and sometimes drenching rain. In today's case it was the sun bearing down the 85
degree heat with nary a gust of wind to be had.

On the south side of the stadium are statues of Joe Robbie, Don Shula, and Dan Marino.
Nearby stands the Dolphins fan experience, with  plenty of interactive games to be played,
food and drink to be had, live music, prizes and the occasional radio broadcasts going on.

The concourses

The stadium itself is octagon shaped, and in each of the four corners are circular ramps
and canopied escalator towers to whisk fans to the club and upper levels. Concourses
here are pretty congested, and that is largely due to the throngs of fans who leave the
seating bowl to escape the heat. This is a difficult building to navigate.

On the lower level are four corner bars, providing a sports bar atmosphere in an outdoor
setting, complete with full bar service and video walls showing NFL Sunday Ticket.. The
upper concourse gives the fan sweeping views of the outlying areas with the skylines of Ft.
Lauderdale and Miami visible in the distance. Scattered through the venue are numerous
small team merchandise stores.

Concessions

A variety of places to find all kinds of food and drink, with corporations such as Pizza Hut,
Carvel, and Mrs. Field's combining with themed stands named Seaside Grill and Pelican
Cafe. Nothing more than the standard
ballpark dreck on the menu. And yeah there is a
specialty stand offering Buffalo Wings (in Miami???). One look at them and pros like us can
immediately tell you that they were not the real deal. Not even close...

Seating Area

Armchair seating for close to 75,000, most colored in Dolphin orange split into two levels,
with a club seating area and teal seats surrounding the top of the lower level. Color
accents are all done in Florida colors - orange, blue and teal. Two jumbotron scoreboards,
one at each end zone, that also provide constant out of town scores and stats to boot. Two
levels of suites can be found surrounding the playing field between the two levels.

Premium Seating

This was one of the first NFL venues to introduce the club seat concept, a novel idea now
duplicated just about everywhere. The 200 level concourse is climate controlled, and a
premium restaurant called the Hall of Champions and a bar overlooking the field called the
Legends Club are available to club ticket holders. Ticket prices here run from $145-$270.

Retired numbers and Banners

Flags at three of the four corners of the stadium stand to commemorate the Dolphins
greatest players and achievements. In one corner are two flags celebrating their back to
back Super Bowl victories over the Redskins(VII) and Vikings(VIII). At another corner are
five flags for the AFC Titles won in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1982, and 1984. Still in a third spot are
two flags for the retired numbers 12 and 13 for Brian....errr BOB Griese and ohhh....what
was that guys name again, let's check the encyclopedia here.....ahhh yes, Marino, Dan
Marino. A flag bearing Larry Csonka's #39 will be added later in the 2002 season.

Also to be noted is the Dolphins Honor Roll on the facade of the upper deck with the names
of many other Dolphin legends including Joe Robbie, Don Shula, and the 1972 undefeated
team that won Super Bowl VII. While most names are facing the sideline, Dan Marino gets
his name listed in the end zone along with his career totals for TDs, completions, attempts,
and passing yardage - all of which are career NFL records!!

Touchdowns, Extra Points, Fumbles....

Touchdown....Let's hear it for the Ultimate Sports Road Trip jinx!!! Yes normally our hearts
are with the home team wherever we go to, except when any Buffalo club is playing, and
ESPECIALLY when it's against the Dolphins. What a thrill it was to see the Bills down the
Fish 23-10 and we're not sure if it was that close.

Fumble, err....Interception(s).....Dolphins backup QB Ray Lucas started in place of the
injured Jay Fiedler. After a game in which Lucas fumbled twice and threw four interceptions
one could say that a better performance could have been had by filmmaker George Lucas,
or retired NBA thug Maurice Lucas!!!

Touchdown and Game Ball - to Russ Salvatore of Salvatore's Italian Gardens. Each year,
Russ rents out Shooters Waterfront Cafe, a canalside hot spot in Ft. Lauderdale on the
night before the game. When the place was in full swing, there were several hundred Bills
backers partying long into the night....a great time was had by all including us!!

Fumble....Questionable rules and regulations...Yes we realize that in today's day and age
security is a priority, and checks of carried items are pretty routine. But can someone
explain why a small clear plastic bag cannot be carried into Pro Player Stadium, yet once a
souvenir is bought inside the gates it is then perfectly acceptable for it to be placed in a
similar clear, plastic bag???? Who thinks this stuff up!!!

Fumble....The "Miami Dolphins" fight song! A direct takeoff of the old Houston Oilers fight
song. ARE WE THE ONLY PEOPLE INFURIATED ABOUT THIS PATHETIC ATTEMPT TO STEAL A
SONG AND MAKE IT THEIR OWN!! And a pretty lame song at that.

The Bills make me wanna SHOUT! (OK, well at LEAST we changed some of the lyrics for gosh
sakes!)

Extra Point - several six lane roads run by Pro Player Stadium, and near the stadium there
are traffic signals and overhead lane guides that advise motorists as to which lanes are
going in which direction, of course this changes at various times during game day. Nice way
to control traffic.

Extra point - Immediately outside the stadium are on ramps taking you right onto the Florida
Turnpike. The steel support beams under the ramps are painted in orange and teal.

Summary

A nice venue with a decent tailgate on the outside and a pretty good atmosphere within the
walls of the facility. Pro Player is a great place to witness an NFL contest, yet despite its
young age it is being passed up by the many newer NFL venues that have sprung up in the
past few years. But if the weather is good and the tickets are available, as both are usually
the case, Pro Player will always remain a favorite destination for those from parts beyond
South Florida to catch their team in action. Our advice, bring a cap, sunscreen and wear
shorts!

SCORING:
Architecture: 8
Food and team store 7
Scoreboard and electronics 4
Ushers 4
Fan support 5
Location and neighborhood 6
Banners and history 9
In game entertainment 3
Concourses/fan comfort 5
Bonus: Tailgate scene 2, Bills/Dolphins rivalry 1
Total 54
Sun Life Stadium
#116



Pro Player
Stadium        



Miami,
Florida




October 20,
2002                       



Buffalo
Bills
at
Miami
Dolphins



(renamed
Dolphins
Stadium
fall,2004)



(renamed
LandShark
Stadium
May, 2009)