Hop out of bed (or wherever you crashed from the Friday night party), head out of the dorm and down to the tailgate on campus as all the outside fans and alumni parties begin to rock and roll. Ahhh, an absolute dream!
For the students at the University of Miami, it still is just a dream.
Currently, students or fans near the campus in Coral Gables have to travel around 25 miles–which turns into about an hour in the car–up to Miami Gardens to find a spot outside Sun Life Stadium, fire up the grill and get ready for the “home” game.
There are a lot of reasons for this setup. Maybe it’s a more affluent area around Miami Gardens and an area where a lot of moneyed alumni live. Maybe there is more opportunity for a game-day environment. Who knows the underlying reasons, but officials around the university knows they must address a state of the art stadium on or near campus moving forward.
But there is one big problem. There is no land available and what is available, they say they can’t afford. So what it seems the Hurricanes have decided to do is to partner with the Miami Dolphins and the Discover Orange Bowl to pitch the local government to help with a $400 million renovation at Sun Life Stadium.
To be honest, Miami is really pimping themselves out on this deal because the main push has nothing to do with College Football. It’s all about the city getting Super Bowl 50. No matter what Al Golden does to turn the program back to greatness, you are not going to fill up 80,000 seats in South Florida.
Not to mention this is a town that is jaded about stadiums too after the debacle that was the Florida Marlins‘ new park.
But despite the feel of the public, Miami as a private university needs to figure something out on its own. An on-campus venue that holds around 50,000 fans would be one of the greatest experiences in all of college football. It would also become one of the toughest tickets to get in town, which is an added financial boost for the university as well.
Winning in the college football recruiting game is all about the campus pulse, walking into the home stadium and the amazing state of the art facilities to wow the kids. Right now, Miami doesn’t have this. Check out the Alabama Crimson Tide‘s facilities and how they are established with campus in mind compared to what the Hurricanes have.
College football needs the swagger of the old-school Miami Hurricanes. They just don’t need the facilites that look like Bernie Kosar. They need the cathedrals that mirror Duke Johnson instead.
M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him @woodysmalls.