MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — At this moment, a good portion of Sun Life Stadium is nothing more than rubble and dirt. A blank slate serving as an outline for a bold, new look that will begin to take effect in the upcoming season.
With the opening of their new preview center, however, the Miami Dolphins’ vision of the future has become much clearer.
Featuring state-of-the-art technology and solutions provided by Samsung Business, the recently opened preview center gives current season ticket members and prospective members the ability to not only marvel at the stadium’s future, but also select their new seat locations.
"It’s the latest technology in terms of video screens and audiovisual that we’re using to pick your seats and everything that we’re doing down there, it’s exciting, cutting-edge technology that will provide the fans an amazing opportunity to really experience what the new stadium is going to be like," said Dolphins president & CEO Tom Garfinkel.
On Tuesday morning, south Florida media members we’re treated to that experience.
The tour begins in a dimly lit, theater-like room where, before you are able to gaze into the stadium’s future, you are first treated to a detailed look at Miami’s on-field success from its inaugural season up until the present day. It is in this presentation that the organization also breaks up the definition of home into three separate categories: history, opportunity and memories.
It’s also important to note that rookie wide receiver Jarvis Landry was featured heavily in the team’s video montage while disgruntled wideout Mike Wallace was notably absent. This could be viewed as a sign of how the team views Wallace’s role with the organization going forward.
From there, the tour moves into the sales center where patrons are greeted by a wide array of promotional videos, a replica of the soon-to-be stadium and a breathtaking virtual tour of the finished product.
Additionally, examples of the team’s future seating options are also available to try out — from traditional seating to the new spacious "living room" seats that have already garnered interest around the league. These seats will all be ready in time for the 2015 season as well as enhanced concourses at the 100 and 300 levels.
The open-air canopy and four giant high-definition video boards, however, will not be ready until 2016. When the canopy is installed, though, the team expects the number of seats safeguarded from the sun to rise from 15 to 92 percent on Sundays.
In the nearly two months since construction began, the sidelines have been cleared and most of the olds seats have been removed. The field, however, remains intact and Garfinkel notes that contractors have lost only two days of work thus far — one for rain and another for wind.
"We’re on pace," said Garfinkel, who said the organization has been working weekends in order to stick to their schedule. "We’re removing the last of the seats this week, there’s still just a few seats left in one of the end zones. All of the concrete’s being cleaned and treated. The new seats start going in in April. The new precast [concrete] starts getting built here soon. The progress has been rapid."
With the modernization, the capacity at Sun Life Stadium will also be reduced from roughly 76,000 to 65,326 in order to accommodate the new scoreboards and seating arrangements.
Garfinkel, however, doesn’t expect the team’s home-field advantage to suffer as a result.
"We actually did significant acoustic studies on the design," said Garfinkel. "The studies are incredible. The crowd noise is actually going to increase in the new stadium. The way roof has been designed, it actually keeps the crowd noise in and it’s actually going to get louder."
From the sales center, the tour finishes in a smaller, more secluded conference room where season ticket members are given the opportunity to select their seats through a virtual tour of the stadium. In the near future, the organization hopes to implement a program where the entire stadium can be traversed with a joystick.
The selection process for new seats is done in order of longest tenure, meaning fans who have been Season Ticket Members since 1966 will get to choose first, followed by those who became members in 1967 and so on. New Season Ticket Members, however, will be slotted by order of when they put down their deposit.
In what Garfinkel describes as a "once in a generation opportunity", current season ticket members who used to sit apart will now also be given the chance to sit together by averaging their tenure and selecting their new seat locations at the same time.
"We really want to take the opportunity to get people sitting together that want to be together," said Garfinkel. "If someone has 25 years of tenure and someone’s got 15 years of tenure, we’ll average it into 20 and have them pick on that day so they can sit together."
The full renewal process is expected to take roughly two months and the flashy allure of the preview center will likely go a long way in both retaining current season ticket members and attracting new ones.
In fact, there is already one VIP customer satisfied with the experience.
"I got to see it last week, and it was kind of emotional, with the effect of the video and seeing the stadium, what it’s going to look like, being brand new and the tradition of the Miami Dolphins," said Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.
"I think it’s exciting, not only for the current players, but also the fans and the people that love South Florida."