University of Miami

UM denies report football season opener moved to FAU

The Miami Hurricanes haven’t moved on to Plan B just yet, but they will be ready if they need to be.

That’s what school athletic director Blake James said Wednesday in response to a report by CBS Sports that lagging renovations at New Miami Stadium have already forced the football team to move its Sept. 3 opener against Florida A&M to FAU Stadium in Boca Raton.

James told the Miami Herald the report was inaccurate, and a spokesman at FAU told the Palm Beach Post it has had no discussions with UM about moving any Hurricanes games to FAU Stadium.

“We remain in regular contact with the Dolphins organization regarding the status of the stadium renovation project,” James said in a statement released by the school.

“It’s a very complex project and I know the Dolphins are doing everything possible to get it ready in time to play football. We are very excited about what these improvements will mean for our fans and gameday atmosphere. We still expect to play all of our games at the stadium. However, we’re aware that things could change and if they do we have a contingency plan in place if needed.”

The Dolphins have maintained that although the renovations are on a very tight schedule, the team still expects to host football the weekend of Sept. 1, when Miami plays its last preseason game against the Titans.

Last month, the Dolphins announced they were moving their first home exhibition game on Aug. 25 to Orlando’s Camping World Stadium and maintained it had nothing to do with delays in stadium renovations.

Ultimately, Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, formerly known as the Citrus Bowl, could end up being the best fit for the Hurricanes as well if there are any delays in renovations. It seats 65,000 — only 326 fewer fans than New Miami Stadium.

Although FAU Stadium (30,000 capacity), FIU Stadium (23,500) and Marlins Park (34,000) are closer to UM’s campus, all are significantly smaller stadiums and some have scheduling conflicts.

On Sept. 3, FAU is scheduled to host Southern Illinois. FIU could serve as a host for UM the first two weeks of the season, but the Panthers are also playing at home the first two weeks of the season, hosting Indiana on Sept. 1 and Maryland on Sept. 9.

UM is scheduled to host FAU on Sept. 10. UM could always ask FAU to host that game if the delay in renovations lasts that long. But sources say UM would prefer to play on a neutral site.

Marlins Park is not available Sept. 10 because the Marlins will be hosting the Dodgers. The facility is available the weekend of Sept. 3 because the Marlins will be playing in Cleveland. But it isn’t an ideal alternative because the Marlins return home on Sept. 5 and the turnaround time would be difficult. UM would also have to pay the Marlins to bring in sod so the Marlins’ regular grass isn’t damaged.

James said if UM has to turn to Plan B, the preference is “what is best for our fans and our team.” He also said UM plans to give fans adequate time to adjust if the Dolphins tell them the stadium won’t be ready for their first two games.

The Hurricanes’ third home is Oct. 8 against rival Florida State.

The Dolphins’ first regular season home game is Sept. 25 against the Cleveland Browns.