Hard Rock Stadium – Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Hard Rock Stadium 347 Don Shula Dr, Suite 102 Miami Gardens, FL 33056
Year Opened: 1987
Rockin’ in the Miami World
Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL is best known as the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins for over 35 years and has gone through several name changes in that time. Besides hosting “the fish”, the facility has also hosted six Super Bowls and two different college bowl games (one of which, the Orange Bowl, is still held here), currently hosts a tennis tournament, and was once the temporary home of the Florida Atlantic Owls, as well as the then Florida Marlins.
However, on a few Saturdays in the fall, Hard Rock Stadium welcomes the hard-rocking fans from the nearby University of Miami, becoming a literal sea of orange for a few hours. The Miami (FL) Hurricanes have called the venue home since 2008, when they moved here from the old Orange Bowl Stadium, which was subsequently demolished and replaced by LoanDepot Park, home of the MLB’s Miami Marlins.
Food & Beverage 5
Being mainly an NFL stadium, it won’t surprise you that there is a huge selection of food and beverage options here – they sell practically anything you can think of. Hard Rock Stadium boasts almost 100 concessions stands across its three levels of seating, and all the basics can be found here as well as plenty of more specialty items.
First, you can find burgers, chicken tenders, pizza, nachos, hot dogs, etc., but they will all be gussied up a little with extra or more gourmet ingredients; no plain Jane menu items here. Then, moving on to the more unique items, you can certainly find a taste of Florida here such as arepas, but there are also all kinds of other options such as seafood, deli sandwiches, and sushi – yes sushi; there is a Benihana stand offering that dish as well as hibachi, fried rice, and poke bowls. Click here to see all the other options Hard Rock Stadium has.
For drinks, the facility boasts multiple full bars, as well as numerous stands selling canned beer and seltzers, and you will also see individual vendors all over the place, hawking beer from plastic tubs filled with ice – they are located in convenient locations, near the ramp for example, so you don’t have to go hunting to quench your thirst.
Note that the concession prices here are higher than you will see at other college venues, and also the venue is 100% cashless, but if cash is all you have, you can redeem it for pre-paid Visa gift cards at any of the team stores on site.
The Miami (FL) Hurricanes put on a great show at Hard Rock Stadium – the band marches down and around the stadium during pregame, there are plenty of band formations done on the field, and you will see the cheerleaders, dance team, and mascot front and center, strutting their stuff as well as any other pep squad you can find. The mascot’s antics are particularly fun to watch, especially seeing him give it to the refs after a particularly egregious call on the field.
The best thing about Hard Rock Stadium, however, is that 90%+ of the seats are covered – due to recent renovations there is now a white roof covering most of the venue, almost everything except the field itself if you were looking down from above. That said, if you sit anywhere except the first few rows closest to the field, you will find yourself safe and protected from the elements, and The heat and sun are extremely intense this far south in the Sunshine State, so the shade is much appreciated.
There are also 4 enormous video boards here, one in each corner, so you are easily able to watch replays, and all the seats are bucket-style chairbacks, so you should be able to enjoy the game in comfort.
There is certainly very little entertainment within walking distance of Hard Rock Stadium, given the enormous footprint the stadium and its accompanying parking lots take up, not to mention the freeways and highways all around it, but there are plenty of great restaurants within a short drive. Being in Miami Cuban food is a great option, and you will see plenty of those eateries in the area, as well as numerous great seafood places. There is also a wonderful Mexican restaurant closer to the airport (about 20 minutes from the stadium) called Chevys Fresh Mex, which is worth a look if you are headed that way.
In addition to the restaurants there are plenty of hotels in the area, most of them closer to the beach, and if you are looking for something to do before or after the game, have you ever seen live horse racing? Miami boasts two tracks within a short drive of Hard Rock Stadium, Gulfstream Park, and Hialeah Park – both have attached casinos if you prefer that type of thrill. Gulfstream Park offers live racing from July to October and again from December to May, so that is the one you will likely have to hit up during football season, as Hialeah only has live racing from November to February.
The fans here are stellar – while they don’t typically sell the place out, when you go to a game here you will find yourself literally in a sea of orange, as almost everyone is sporting Hurricanes gear, or at least wearing the team colors. The fans are also very loud, especially the ones behind the northwest end zone, and I was surprised by how few visiting fans there were, even for games versus a ranked opponent.
The tailgating scene is also crazy; the Orange lots are filled with tents and fans eating, drinking, playing games, and enjoying the day – it seemed like the stands were even a little slow to fill up after kickoff, as so many people were still out partying, but the attendance maxed out by the of the first quarter.
The big knock for Miami football is simply the traffic – it takes a very long time to get to Hard Rock Stadium, and it is even worse getting out of the parking lots after. The staff tries to do a good job managing the flow, but there are just too many folks packed into too small a space, and this was for a college game not even a pro game.
Pay attention to where you parked, by the way; there are signs up above for each section/color, as well as giant numbers marked into the pavement for each row, so I would make a note, or snap a photo, as all the parking areas will pretty much look alike once the game is over.
Once you get to the stadium itself, there are metal detectors/scanners for security, and it will take a while to walk around – there are lots of gates, so if you need to get to a certain gate for your seat it will take time to get there, as the venue is so large (Will Call for example is at the Southwest gate, which is quite a haul from the Orange parking).
Some of the egress inside is also overcomplicated – there are winding ramps up to the higher levels, which are again quite a long walk to get around, so you may prefer the escalators, but these have fencing around them to direct traffic, so you must walk in a big circle to get onto them; I found this a little unnecessary.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets are a little on the high side for Miami (FL) football if you buy from the school itself, but you can find them cheaper on third-party sites. Note that all the tickets are mobile, though you will still see scalpers trying to sell them as you walk up to the entrances. Nevertheless, the Miami (FL) fans alone make attending a Hurricanes game worth it – you get all the crowd noise and energy here that you might expect from a much bigger program.
There are seating areas all over the place both inside Hard Rock Stadium and outside, making it easy to sit and eat or spend time with friends at the game. There is also a Dan Marino statue outside if you want a selfie, and who could object to the scenery of palm trees swaying in the breeze?
Hard Rock Stadium for a Miami (FL) Hurricanes football game is a trip worth the time and expense – you will be treated to lots of great food in the stadium, a wonderful crowd, and a high-quality venue with shade from the elements. Plan a little in terms of where to park and how to buy your tickets, and you should have an awesome time.