Marlins announce new Miami Beach Bowl
Original Orange Bowl grounds to start hosting postseason college football in 2014
MIAMI -- College football is returning to the grounds of the historic Orange Bowl site.
The Marlins on Thursday, in partnership with the American Athletic Conference, officially introduced the creation of the Miami Beach Bowl, which will be played at Marlins Park in December 2014.
The annoucement brings a bowl game back to the Little Havana section of Miami, where college football as well as Super Bowls were once played for decades.
Marlins Park, which opened in 2012, rests on the old Orange Bowl, previously the football home of the University of Miami.
"These are hallowed grounds," Marlins president David Samson said. "Where you're sitting right now, this is where the Orange Bowl was, and the tradition that we had of college football and postseason college football and regular season college football. It should continue."
The Miami Beach Bowl will match an American Athletic Conference school against an opponent either from Conference USA, the Sun Belt Conference or the Mid-American Conference. There also is a chance a school from another conference could compete.
The Miami Beach Bowl has a six-year contract with Marlins Park, but chances are it will last much longer.
Nick Carparelli, senior associate commissioner of the American Athletic Conference, said on Thursday that he foresees the bowl being a long-term fixture at the ballpark.
"We're proud to be able to stage this game at Marlins Park, the site of the original Orange Bowl, where some of the greatest players and coaches in college football history have performed," Carparelli said.
The Orange Bowl, of course, also was the previous home of the Miami Dolphins.
For baseball, Marlins Park seats 36,000, but for the bowl game, capacity will be 34,000. Some sections, located down the right-field line, will be blocked off because of obstructed views.
Ticket prices are expected to be around $60.
Already, the bowl has had conversions with major television networks to broadcast the game, but no deal has been finalized.
Samson added that the 73-foot, flashy home run sculpture will be included for the event. But bowl officials will decide when the colorful sculpture will go off. Most likely it will be whenever points are scored.
Marlins Park will become the fourth active Major League stadium used to host a bowl game. It joins Yankee Stadium in New York, AT&T Park in San Francisco and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
The exact date has yet to be set for the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl, but it is expected sometime in the third week of December, around Dec. 22-23.
With its retractable roof, the Miami Beach Bowl is guaranteed to be played without the inconvenience of rain.
The plan is to leave the roof open, but that could change based on the weather. The infield dirt will be covered with turf, and after the bowl game, the entire field will be resodded in preparation for baseball.
The layout of the football field will be 160 yards wide and 360 yards in length. The end zones will be located in front of the third-base dugout to the right field bullpen.
"There is no end to what this ballpark can do," Samson said. "It's shown to be incredibly resilient. It was built with all of those things in mind."
During the planning and construction of Marlins Park, a state-of-the-art baseball venue, the Marlins designed the ballpark to house other events.
In November 2012, the building was the site of a soccer match.
In the future, the Marlins have aspirations of attracting early round NCAA basketball tournament games.
"This is exactly what we envisioned," Samson said. "This is why we are here. Not only do we play baseball here, it is a baseball facility, but it just makes sense. When we were approached by the conference about the Miami Beach Bowl, it was perfect. We're just starting."
A study showed the event projects to bring an economic impact of $34 million to South Florida.
"We began discussions with the Marlins almost a year ago about the possibility of making this game a reality," Carparelli said. "They've been great partners from the start."
As partners, the Miami Beach Bowl will have a full-time presence and a staff at Marlins Park.
Although Marlins Park is located in Little Havana, the name is the Miami Beach Bowl.
"It was important to us that Miami was in the name in some way," Carparelli said. "We considered, South Beach Bowl, Miami Beach Bowl and Miami Bowl. ... Bowl games are really about the whole week of events, and the whole experience for the fans and the student athletes who come here.
"It really is an event that is going to benefit all of Miami-Dade County. The national branding of the event, we felt, would bring the most attention to the game and to the area, would be to call it the Miami Beach Bowl. I think when people who aren't from this area think about coming here to vacation, they think about Miami Beach."
The American Athletic Conference is comprised of Central Florida, South Florida, Louisville, Houston, Cincinnati, Rutgers, SMU, Connecticut, Memphis and Temple.