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Miami Hurricanes to Leave Orange Bowl

By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer


CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Miami will play home football games at Dolphin Stadium starting in 2008, leaving the historic but decaying Orange Bowl after seven decades.

The university's trustees decided Tuesday to make the much-debated move, which could generate $2 million or more in extra revenue annually for the Hurricanes' athletic department. City officials unsuccessfully tried to keep Miami at the Orange Bowl by promising $206 million in upgrades.

"This is a painful and sad decision," Miami president Donna Shalala said.

The Hurricanes agreed to a 25-year lease with Dolphin Stadium.

Miami first played at the Orange Bowl, about eight miles from its campus, in 1937. The Hurricanes won three national championship games on that field, had a NCAA-record 58-game home winning streak from 1985 through 1994 and have drawn more than 17 million fans there over the years.

But the stadium's facade is rusting, upgrades are needed and the building lacks many amenities that modern stadiums have _ such as the luxury suites and video replay screens that helped lure Miami to the home of the Dolphins.

"The move to the stadium and the superior facilities that it offers will greatly enhance our recruiting efforts," Miami coach Randy Shannon said.

With the Hurricanes set to depart, the Orange Bowl will no longer have a primary tenant. The Dolphins moved to the facility first known as Joe Robbie Stadium in 1987, and the Orange Bowl _ one of college football's marquee and best-known bowl games _ moved to Dolphin Stadium in 1996.

And that means the building's future is in serious doubt. The site has been mentioned as a possible new home for the Florida Marlins, or the stadium could simply be knocked down.

Miami's first game in Dolphin Stadium is scheduled for Aug. 30, 2008, against North Texas, but Hurricanes athletic director Paul Dee said the school is negotiating to bring a different opponent in for that date.

Miami has won nearly 70 percent of its games at the Orange Bowl, a place where opponents routinely acknowledged feeling intimidated by the crowds and game-time atmosphere.

"It got to be very tough to hear and tough to communicate down there. That's what made it difficult to play in," said Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who brought his Seminoles to the building nearly two dozen times over the years.

The Orange Bowl opened in 1937 and has hosted Super Bowls, a famous speech by President John F. Kennedy to Cuban exiles after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, concerts, boxing and even Olympic soccer matches in 1996.

Many of the university's existing Orange Bowl traditions _ including the smoke-filled tunnel for pregame introductions and the Miami ring of honor _ will be moved to Dolphin Stadium, which is undergoing $300 million worth of expansion and renovations.

"We look forward to a wonderful partnership that continues the storied football legacy of UM here in their new home," Dolphin Stadium owner Wayne Huizenga said.

The city's stadium refurbishment plan was met with skepticism by some within the university, since much of the needed money would have to come from grants and tax credits that haven't been secured.

Still, some fans continued lobbying until the end, with more than 4,000 signing an online petition in recent weeks imploring the university to stay put, and others organizing small rallies in hope of getting trustees to change their mind.

"The city of Miami made an extraordinary effort to identify funds and design a renovation," Shalala said. "But in the end, it wasn't enough."

Miami's lease at the Orange Bowl runs past 2008, but the school will be able to move next fall _ meaning the last scheduled game for the Hurricanes at the facility will be Nov. 10 against Virginia.

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i sure won't miss the parking at the OB.

The local home owners will have to find another source for $.

I don't think Dolphin stadium will have any winners this year. Shame to, the Canes should have a good D, but the QB??

I bet you wont miss the cat on a stick the natives sell, either ;-)

I have low expectations for the offense this year. I think their best bet is to focus on running the ball with James and Cooper until Marve takes over at QB, probably next year.

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