MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- There have not been many celebratory days with the Miami Dolphins over the past month following their late-season collapse. However, many key members of the organization were all smiles Friday during the public unveiling of changes made to Sun Life Stadium.
Owner Stephen Ross, new executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum, head coach Joe Philbin, general manager Dennis Hickey and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino were among those in attendance to promote the new changes. Ross is projected to spend about $400 million of his own money to upgrade Sun Life Stadium over the next two seasons.
Here are some key changes:
The Dolphins will move the seats closer to the field to help promote crowd noise and improve the viewing experience. New seats will be added to every location, with the color changing from the old orange to the new aqua. That process is already underway.
The capacity of Sun Life Stadium has been reduced by about 10,000 seats to 65,326. The Dolphins have had attendance issues in the past, and this should help. The old capacity is 76,016.
Sun Life Stadium will have a partial roof canopy and new big screen televisions. Those changes will not be added until 2016.
The Dolphins will keep natural grass. They will not change to artificial turf.
"Dolphins fans will have as good an experience as anybody else in the NFL in terms of the venue that they go to," Dolphins president and CEO Tom Garfinkel said. "He’s made that investment, and I think that says a lot about his commitment to South Florida, to the fans here, and to the Dolphins."
In addition to boosting the Dolphins, Ross said one of his big goals with the renovation is to host future Super Bowls. His aim is to have 3-5 Super Bowls at Sun Life Stadium over the next 20 years.
Miami will begin its push for the next available Super Bowls in 2019, according to Ross. That vote from the NFL will be in May of 2016.
"We’re really trying to create one of the great sports entertainment facilities in the United States today," Ross said. "It’s going to take two years to get it done, and next September of 2016, when we have our grand opening, we’re going to do something special. I’m really excited about that, and I think all of Miami will be excited."