While the Miami Dolphins didn’t always look spectacular in their final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, the debut of Hard Rock Stadium was definitely impressive. There were at least five new features from Thursday night’s game that should continue to excite fans all season long.
5. SunPass Access and safety efforts
As fans made their way into the stadium the SunPass access looked pretty simple. While others look for cash or a credit card to gain access to the outer parking lots, SunPass users were greeted by an attendant that scanned their device and then they made their way in. The new feature seems like it could make things a lot smoother, especially for bigger regular season games. The same goes for the 167 new metal detectors that are being installed around the stadium. The technology is meant to make things faster so thirsty football fans can quickly get to their beverage of choice.
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4. Uber zone
The stadium has partnered with Uber to create a new tailgate zone in the east parking lots. For Thursday’s game the tailgate zone wasn’t officially open, but after making the long journey from Northwest 183rd Street to Northwest 199th Street and to a parking lot, it’s worthwhile knowing that there’s a dedicated zone for when you want to take a day off. The team said the tailgate zone will allow fans to cook their own food or purchase food if their grilling arm feels weak.
3. The canopy
While Thursday was a night game, and some areas of the canopy won’t be complete until the regular season, the canopy’s shade was still visible and even provided some cover from the bright new video boards (more on those later). The real test will be how the canopy holds up in the rain or on a hot day after the Dolphins have squandered a 10-point lead.
2. The video boards
The Dolphins have boasted that the new screens have the largest square footage of any stadium in the AFC East. While I haven’t been to those stadiums, it basically feels like there’s no place where you can’t see the screens or the LEDs shining on you in Hard Rock Stadium. They loom large and show a mix of the action on the field and other graphics along with closed captions and a steady stream of corporate ad placement.
1. The stadium itself
Whether you still call it Joe Robbie or “The Rock,” the building somehow has more of a presence than before. It could be the hype, but it’s probably the large spires sticking out from each corner of the stadium. Between new grass, that the team said won’t turn brown and muddy, and the screens cutting to excited fans throwing up their hands and dabbing, it seemed like people were truly excited to be there, and the presentation is impressive.
I’ll save predictions for the full-time football writers but even if the Dolphins aren’t playoff contenders , the stadium will at least be a solid attraction.