Dolphins show off renovations, insist stadium will be ready in August

The Dolphins' newly renovated stadium would have been football-ready for the Aug. 25 preseason home opener against Atlanta that was moved to Orlando, team officials said during a stadium tour for media Thursday.

"We would have been ready, and still will be ready to play by that time," said Bill Senn senior vice president of stadium renovations. "So we're in good shape."

The NFL asked the Dolphins to move that Aug. 25 preseason game to Orlando to help showcase the city and Camping World Stadium ahead of the 2017 Pro Bowl there.

The Dolphins plan to have their stadium (it has no title sponsor because the contract with Sun Life expired) ready for their Sept. 1 preseason finale against Tennessee, and the University of Miami's season opener against Florida A&M on Sept. 3. The Dolphins' first regular-season home game isn't until Sept. 25.

UM athletic director Blake James said the Hurricanes are evaluating Orlando as an option if the Dolphins' stadium isn't ready in time for the Hurricanes' opener.

Dolphins President and CEO Tom Garfinkel said that won't be the case.

"I don't know how many times I have to say it," Garfinkel began, "but right now we're currently on schedule. Barring unforeseen circumstances the stadium will be football-ready, would have been football-ready by Game 3 of the preseason, will now be football-ready by Game 4 of the preseason, which is before the University of Miami game."

Garfinkel added "things could change" and cited acts of nature, such a storm, that could throw off the schedule.

"The NFL asked us to move the game; we said yes," Garfinkel said of moving the Aug. 25 preseason game. "Are we happy to have a few more days of breathing room, if you will? Sure. But that wasn't really the genesis of why we moved the game at all, and we would have been ready."

Senn said 400 workers are on the construction project, which has been going 24/7 since December. Massive cranes, which had to be trucked in piece by piece and assembled on the stadium floor, are erecting the shade canopy that will shield 92 percent of the crowd from sun and rain.

The canopy is built to resist a Category 4 hurricane.

The four spires at each corner of the stadium, each standing 357 feet, are erected.

"They are really and truly going to be an iconic feature of this building going forward," Senn said.

LED lighting will illuminate the spires from roof level. The outer edge of the shade canopy will also have lighting. In-stadium lights will be used during day games to even out lighting for TV purposes.

Two of the four high-definition video boards that will occupy each corner of the stadium are in place. They are the largest video boards in the AFC East at 50 feet by 112 feet, and they're among the largest in the NFL. They'll all be installed by the end of June.

"There isn't a seat in the house that doesn't have an awesome view of the boards," Senn said.

The field will be made of paspalum grass, a laboratory-created hybrid that has become popular at golf courses in recent years.

The stadium is also designed to hold noise better, the sound system is vastly improved, and there will be more bathrooms and concession areas, as well as more metal detectors for expedited entry into the stadium.

Garfinkel said season tickets are still available, but the Dolphins are ahead of where they were at this time last year in terms of sales.

Season-ticket holders will be reimbursed for the Aug. 25 preseason game. But because of flex pricing, which allows teams to charge more for prime games and less for lower profile games, they'll only get four percent of their season price refunded. Accordingly, with flex pricing, when the Dolphins moved a home game against the New York Jets to London last year, season-ticket holders got an 11.2 percent refund.

Senn said he has daily phone calls with Dolphins owner Steve Ross on the construction project, and Ross will examine the stadium twice this month.

"He's here a lot," Senn said. "He's very involved in this project. He's hands on."