For many in South Florida, "the Dolphins are the only team we care about." "However, there are so many" "snowbird transplants" there's "not really much of a home field advantage." "Jets fans are capable of taking over the stadium when we play them -- that's a problem." So is a "laid-back" crowd, "half of whom aren't in their seats when the games start." And, of course, suffering through an era of "Here we go again" Miami football doesn't breed a rabid fan base either. "When the offense is moving the ball past the 40, the crowd can get as rowdy as any other, but when all you've got is a mess of Cleo Lemon, the crowd turns into a mess of quiet."
6 out of 10
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Soda (20 oz.)
Beer (16 oz.)
Expected Meal Cost
"Some Latin influence has made its way inside the stadium. The food is good even though it is pricey" was a complaint no matter the origin of fare. Generally, there's "nothing notable" about the typical rubber stadium hot dogs and watered-down beer." Chain stands such as Papa John's Pizza and Miami Subs offer "excellent variety," while "Smirnoff bar areas have plenty of TVs and alcohol."
6 out of 10
"There is lots of traffic, but lots of roads, too." "The stadium is located just off of two major expressways [I-95 and the Florida Turnpike]," and the "exit off the turnpike goes right into the parking lot." That being the case, "the exit ramp tends to get congested," leaving many "searching for parking 5-10 blocks away because the lots are often full as of 9 a.m." Those auxiliary lots "cause heavy traffic" on the way out, but "once you get past getting out of the stadium, the traffic is easy."
5 out of 10
Perhaps the greatest handicap facing this "good, but not great" scene that "doesn't really get going until two hours before the game" is Miami itself: "There is quite a bit to do in Miami on a Saturday night; it's hard to start tailgating at 9 a.m. Sunday." Those who can open their eyes will be treated to a "Latin-influenced" menu including "roasted pork, grilled shrimp and cooked beef." As it "can get boiling hot in the early season," there is a lot of "hardcore drinking" while "kicking back" in an area with "enough room, with no interference from other tailgaters."
7 out of 10
Jason Taylor :: Bill Frakes/SI
Record through Week 9
Players Worth Watching
Ronnie Brown (RB), Jason Taylor (DE), Zach Thomas (LB)
1 out of 10
"The stadium is still state-of-the-art for something that was [opened] in 1987." That includes "escalators to the top seating levels," a "spacious" feel generated by "wide concourses" and high-definition video screens so large "if they are at the other end of the stadium, watching them is like sitting in your living room with a big screen TV." That isn't the same feeling many fans get when looking at the field, which "is too far from the stands." "Built to accommodate football and baseball, the dimensions are funky." They also offer "little protection from the sun." "The heat is an advantage for the team; it's dreadful for the fans." Come November, though, "the weather is amazing," a claim few NFL fields can make come late fall.
7 out of 10
"Sandwiched between two interstate highways," "no community atmosphere" exists around the stadium, unless you count the Calder Race Course." "The location was selected because there was enough space, not for the ambiance." "A few strip clubs and restaurants" aren't far, but this area "looks like almost any town you'd find if you pull off of I-95."
2 out of 10
Like the team it houses, Dolphin Stadium is kind of ... of ... eh? Neither is of championship quality nor in need of rebuilding. That's enough to get hopes up early in the year, but as the small flaws become increasingly apparent, it doesn't offer much of an enticement to stick around. Good weather, HD scoreboards and bikini-clad women only go so far. At least the Dolphins have shown a commitment to improving both major aspects of the game day experience, consistently turning over parts of the roster while sprucing up their 10-year-old home to keep it as up-to-date as a middle-aged facility can be. That may not be much comfort while watching the Pats beat-up the Dolphins on a 94-degree day, but it's more than many fans can boast.