For quite a few years now, advocates of an oncampus football stadium for the University of Miami Hurricanes have been clamoring for a change in the school’s nostadium policy and touting the advantages of a dedicated home for the team.
Time could be running out for the UM’s football program if the administration doesn’t see the importance of an on-campus stadium and make it a priority.
Fan attendance at home games — held not onsite but at distant stadiums, like the Orange Bowl in the past or at Sun Life stadium now — is down and so is team spirit and school spirit. A true “Home of the ’Canes” located right on campus would do a lot to correct all of those problems and might even get the team back on a winning streak with some national championships. Expecting students and fans to travel long distances to stadiums with no connection to their team just isn’t working. There is no home team advantage if there is no home.
And if the UM administrators really want their school to be taken seriously, then they need to take their own sports program seriously — especially football, which is the power sport at most schools nationwide and drives not only funding for sports but for educational programs as well. Alumni that aren’t excited about their school aren’t inclined to contribute to it.
Look at the facts. The University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University all have on-campus stadiums. Why not a major program like the UM. The same is true for all major colleges around the country. Those universities all understand the importance of oncampus stadiums for building spirit and raising funds. College football is not just a game; it’s also big business.
Studies have shown that there is room onsite for an appropriate-sized stadium, and that traffic and parking issues would be minimal and manageable. A stadium wouldn’t have to be big enough to compete with Sun Life. In fact, having a limited number of seats might encourage fans to buy their tickets early before they sell out.
Financing the stadium is a challenge of course, but if the UM will wisely invest in its own future and also seek corporate sponsorships, there’s no reason why farsighted administrators can’t make it happen. Private funding is a must. No taxpayer money should be involved if the UM wants to avoid the stigma of the Marlins’ stadium fiasco.
It can be done. It should be done. The only question is, are the UM administrators up to the game?