Sun Life Stadium, originally known as Joe Robbie Stadium, was the first of its kind to be constructed entirely with private funds. The late Joe Robbie led the financing campaign to build “Joe Robbie Stadium”(JRS) for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League (NFL). JRS revolutionized the economics of professional sports when it opened in 1987. Inclusion of a Club Level, along with Executive Suites, helped to finance the construction of the stadium, with season ticket holders committing to long-term agreements. In return, they received first-class amenities in a state-of-the-art facility which is still used as a model for new facilities across the country.
With an eye on the future, Robbie designed the stadium as a multi-purpose venue, with more than 1.5 million square feet, over 24,000 parking spaces, and a capacity of up to 75,000 seats. This allowed the field to be quickly converted to meet the requirements to host World Cup Soccer, and, of course, it kept alive the potential
On March 7, 1990, H. Wayne Huizenga, then Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Blockbuster Video and Huizenga Holdings Inc., agreed to purchase fifty percent of Joe Robbie Stadium and became the point man in the drive to bring Major League Baseball to South Florida. That effort was rewarded in July of 1991, when South Florida was awarded a National League expansion franchise. To accommodate MLB baseball and the Florida Marlins, the Stadium was retrofitted in 1992 to include retractable seating, a baseball press box, baseball dugouts, new lights and a hydraulic disappearing pitcher’s mound.
On January 24, 1994, Mr. Huizenga acquired the remaining fifty percent of the stadium to give him complete ownership. Since 1991, more than $250 million have been spent to upgrade and renovate the stadium. The improvement and revitalization of the building has allowed the stadium to remain one of the finest sports and entertainment facilities in the United States.
In February 2008, Mr. Huizenga sold 50 percent of the Miami Dolphins, stadium and surrounding developable land to Stephen M. Ross of New York and Palm Beach. Mr. Ross, Chairman of the Related Companies, an international real estate development company, became an active partner. In January 2009, Mr. Ross closed on the purchase of an additional 45 percent of the team and stadium. Coupled with his earlier purchase of 50 percent of the franchise, the stadium, and the excess developable land, Mr. Ross now owns 95 percent of the Dolphins and the stadium. Mr. Huizenga has a 5 percent share of both and remains a 50 percent partner in that land.
Sun Life Stadium is equipped with a Prescription Athletic Turf (PAT) system which provides draining for its natural grass. It has an advanced mechanical drainage system that provides a firm, dry playing surface within a half-hour after as much as a three-inch per hour rainfall. Over the years, the Stadium’s ground crews have been celebrated for providing one of the best playing surfaces in football.
Over its glorious history, the stadium has hosted many marquee events, including five Super Bowls, two World Series, four college football national championships, a NFL Pro Bowl and World Cup friendly matches. It has also hosted a variety of other internationally acclaimed entertainment events, including concerts by U2, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Billy Joel, Chicago, Genesis, Gloria Estefan, Guns N’ Roses, The Who, Hall & Oates, Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, The Three Tenors, The Police and Madonna.