In 1972, The Miami Dolphins had a perfect season. Not since the Chicago Bears were undefeated thirty years earlier had any team in professional football played and won every regular season game. For months, Miami radio stations repeated a goofy jingle “Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins #1!” Everyone wore a team jersey and tickets to the games were our most treasured possessions. Flash forward to today and a local radio station is offering a lucky winner $56,000 to predict the score of the first game the Dead-Last-Dolphins might win – if they can break their losing streak. In Miami, the weather is hot but the Dolphins are not.
This should not deter you from considering our seventh idea for a perfect South Florida vacation; See a Game. The upside to our less-than-stellar performance this season is that premium seats are readily available online and at the gate. A professional sporting event is a great deal of fun no matter who wins, and even when Miami loses, we make the other team look really great! (No hate mail, please. We’re only kidding.)
South Florida is home to exciting sporting events in glorious arenas. Dolphin Stadium is the state-of-the art home to both the Miami Dolphins and the Florida Marlins Baseball team. The folks at ticketmaster.com have even provided a ticket exchange interface that allows you to buy tickets to individual events directly from local season ticket holders online. We advise you to also purchase an online parking pass so that you can arrive early and take in another great Miami tradition – Tailgating! www.miamidolphins.com
For our overseas visitors, a “tailgate party” is a parking lot ritual held on or around the open tailgate of a vehicle in a sports arena parking lot. This pre-game celebration can be as humble as a 6-pack of beer and a bag of chips or as elaborate as a fully catered affair. Sports fans love to tailgate and do so at all Miami football and baseball games and down south at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on race day. NASCAR fans are world-class party animals who often bring along huge recreational vehicles to tailgate all night long. www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com
While there is no tailgating for basketball, if you come to South Florida and love a great spectacle, the Miami Heat will rock your world at the American Airlines Arena. Located in Downtown Miami right at the edge of Biscayne Bay, the home of the Heat features lavish sky boxes, private party suites, the Dewar’s 12 Clubhouse overlooking the court and Flagship VIP lounges to host private gourmet game-day dinner parties. On any night of the week, enjoy a delicious Cuban dinner at Bongo’s Cafe at the AAArena whether on not there is an event scheduled. The Bayside Marketplace is just next door for a pre-game snack or a post-game drink.
The Miami Heat came into the NBA at the start of the 1988 season as part of an expansion that also included new teams for the Orlando, Minnesota and Charlotte markets. Struggling for their first five seasons, the Heat were able to earn a playoff spot before any of the other newly-founded teams by 1992. Winning their first round playoff match in 1993 against top-seeded Atlanta put Miami on the map. Most Miamians feel the seismic shift for the young team happened during the off-season in 1995 when Superstar Coach Pat Riley was named President and immediately set about reinventing the team.
Riley’s signature coaching style involves building a team around a blockbuster Center player. His championship Los Angeles Lakers whirled around Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the world famous New York Knicks came to power around Patrick Ewing. Once established in Miami, Riley signed Center Alonzo Mourning and set about building the team from there. Mourning’s first season yielded a 42-40 record and a personal best of 50 points scored in a single game.
By 2004, the Heat made the record books again when Coach Riley orchestrated the historic trade of three top-performing players and a first-round draft pick to bring NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal to town. 2005 saw the team’s legendary “15 Strong Ring of Faith” motivate the re-energized line up to bring home the Championship Title and MVP honors to Dwayne Wade who led the team down the streets of Miami as 250,000 fans celebrated at a traffic-stopping rally. Flash forward to 2011 and the Hottest HEAT team has captured the imagination of fans across the world now that Dwayne Wade is part of the legendary “Super Friends” trio playing alongside LeBron James and Chris Bosh. While ticket prices have never been higher, if you’re visiting Miami, you definitely want to spend a night with the Heat! More info at www.heat.com
Miami also hosts International Tennis Championships at the Sony Ericsson Open (March 26 – April 6, 2008 www.sonyericssonopen.com), and NHL Hockey at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise. Panther’s regular season home games run through March 2008. www.floridapanthers.com The stadium is actually 45 minutes to our north, but professional hockey is definitely worth the drive. No matter what kind of sporting event you choose, when you visit Miami, get in the game!
Sports fans around the globe are drawn to the unique spectacle of American Professional Games. The music, the crowds, the food and the fun make a day at a ball game something truly memorable. For something a bit more cerebral, we enjoy sharing our rich cultural heritage with visitors who can tear themselves away from the beach. Our next segment will help you get a better look at the Sights and Sounds of the City Beautiful! Let the games begin!