Despite renovations costing more than $500 million to Hard Rock Stadium, nearly 6,000 are putting final touches to turn the facility into something ‘very Super Bowl-esque.’
A giant “LIV” that greets anyone approaching Hard Rock Stadium is the first sign something special is brewing to end the NFL’s 100th season.
In and around the grounds, nearly 6,000 workers have been prepping for Feb. 2, when the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs meet in Super Bowl LIV, ending Miami’s 10-year drought for hosting the championship game.
Tuesday, the media were given a tour of the stadium, where NFL officials said work — and there’s plenty of it — is on schedule, having begun Jan. 2.
“We definitely do make our presence known when we come to a town for a major event like the Super Bowl,” said Eric Finkelstein, senior director of event operations for the league.
Finkelstein helped organize the previous two Super Bowls in this stadium, although, after a half-billion investment by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for upgrades, “It feels like a brand-new stadium,” Finkelstein said.
Speaking under a crystal-clear sky on a crisp winter afternoon, Finkelstein said it’s “a little different” from his task two years ago, when the Super Bowl was in Minnesota.
“We’ve been here more than any other city to host the Super Bowl,” Finkelstein said. “There’s a reason why we keep coming back. It’s a perfect setting.”
Not surprisingly, he predicted the Super Bowl will be returning to Hard Rock Stadium sometime in the future, although the next four games are spoken for.
Because it is the centennial celebration for the NFL, Finkelstein promised more “very special unique elements” than the league has delivered at past Super Bowls, but he wouldn’t elaborate.
Already, 4.5 miles of fencing have been constructed. The turf was installed more than a week ago. The NFL’s “100” logo has been painted at midfield and Super Bowl logos adorn the turf.
But there’s plenty of work to be done. With the conference championship games just being decided last weekend, the Chiefs and 49ers logos are still to be painted in opposite end zones, the first of many team-specific touches to dress up the facility.
What is normally a parking lot for regular-season Dolphins games will hold scores of large party tents, although today, only skeleton frames for those tents are up.
Overall, Finkelstein said, work is on schedule.
“You’ll see this become very Super Bowl-esque,” he said.
@gunnerhalTo sign up for a free Dolphins newsletter, click here.