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Hard Rock, Dolphins sign stadium deal


Seminole Tribe leaders and Miami Dolphins players gather Aug. 17 during a ceremony to announce that the NFL team’s stadium would be named Hard Rock Stadium. From left, Big Cypress Councilman Cicero Osceola, safety Reshad Jones, Hollywood Councilman Chris Osceola, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, President Mitchell Cypress, Brighton Councilman Andrew J. Bowers Jr., and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.  

MIAMI GARDENS — For nearly two decades, Hollywood Councilman Chris Osceola has been a loyal season ticket holder of the Miami Dolphins. He has seen the team’s stadium go through a handful of name changes, but one potential name had always stood out in his mind.

“We always joked around that wouldn’t it be cool if that was Hard Rock Stadium,” he said. “When the Tribe acquired Hard Rock, we started saying that a long time ago, not thinking that would ever become a reality.”

On Aug. 17, it became a reality when the Dolphins and Hard Rock International announced the stadium’s new name: Hard Rock Stadium.

The 18-year naming agreement came with a glitzy news conference at the newly renovated stadium in Miami Gardens. Guests included Seminole Tribe leaders, current and former Dolphin stars, such as Hall of Famer Dan Marino, officials from the team and the stadium’s other main tenant – the University of Miami football program – as well as an appearance from Miami native performing artist Pitbull and a videotaped message from soccer great Pele, who relayed his support for upcoming international soccer games at Hard Rock Stadium.

Hard Rock’s name will now be associated with Dolphins and Hurricanes games, college football playoffs via the Capital One Orange Bowl, soccer matches, concerts and an upcoming Super Bowl.

“This really puts the Tribe out there,” Councilman Osceola said. “One of the things we talked about was how much exposure the stadium gets. The fact that the Super Bowl is going to be here in 2020 with over a billion viewers and to have Hard Rock here and everybody knows the Seminole Tribe is behind Hard Rock, it does amazing things for our Tribe, not only in the community but throughout Indian Country.”

Big Cypress Councilman Cicero Osceola has fond memories of attending games in the stadium. He reminisced about watching Florida defeat Oklahoma in college football’s national championship game in 2009 and seeing Hall of Famer Jerry Rice face the Dolphins.

“It’s very exciting. It’s a great opportunity for our brand name and the Dolphins,” he said. “It’s a great organization. The two together is going to be something positive.”

In addition to Councilmen Chris Osceola and Cicero Osceola, the Tribe was represented in the ceremony by President Mitchell Cypress, Brighton Councilman Andrew J. Bowers Jr. and Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen.

“This deal is not only a naming rights program, but it is designed to be a true partnership between two companies dedicated to providing world class entertainment on a global level,” Allen said.

“To be a good brand, you have to be around great brands, so to be around Hard Rock, Miami Dolphins and a Miami boy, man it looks like we’re moving in the right direction,” Pitbull said during the news conference.

The soccer aspect includes the stadium hosting Brazil national men’s team matches and the return of Real Madrid for the International Champions Cup in 2017.

In a nod to the Hard Rock name, the conclusion of the ceremony featured 25 of the guests on a stage in an end zone where they simultaneously smashed guitars over other guitars. Pitbull joined Allen, President Cypress and Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the center of the stage while four new giant high definition video screens – 50 feet tall, 112 feet long – splashed the Hard Rock Stadium logo in each corner of the stadium that is now covered by a canopy thanks to the team’s $500 million renovation project.

Hard Rock logos are slated to be placed on top of the canopy, so airline passengers as well as a worldwide audience for the 2020 Super Bowl will see the name prominently displayed. As for inside the stadium, the partnership between a team that plays a rock ‘em, sock ‘em sport and a company with a rock ‘n’ roll identity will make its debut Sept. 1 in the Dolphins preseason game against Tennessee. The regular season home opener is Sept. 25 against Cleveland.

“I think the players are excited about it,” Councilman Chris Osceola said. “I talked to a few of the guys and they’re super stoked about it. Everybody is really excited. It’s going to be a lot of excitement and a lot of energy to the stadium.”

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at