On Wednesday, August 17, elected officials, current players, and some prominent South Florida residents, including Hall of Famer Dan Marino, were in attendance in Miami Gardens for the announcement ceremony of the 18-year deal to rename Sun Life Stadium as the Hard Rock Stadium. And in true Hard Rock Café style, guitars were smashed during the unusual on-field ceremony.
The naming rights deal for the 2010-2016 term expired in February in the midst of a two-year $500 million renovation project of the 29-year-old stadium by Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross. Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said, “Instead of selling [personal seat licenses] to fans for $100,000 a seat or something, this money helps us partly pay for that $500 million [stadium] renovation,” according to the Miami Herald.
For several months, Hard Rock International has been rumored to be one of the leading contenders to land naming rights, and of the more than 50 companies that expressed interest, Garfinkel said that they chose Hard Rock because “we love the name. We love the brand. It’s all about entertainment. That’s what we’re about with this stadium, [with] all the entertainment we’re going to have. Hard Rock is globally recognized around the world,” as reported by the news agency.
While the NFL is typically guarded when it comes to any association with gambling – the Seminole Tribe of Florida acquired the Hard Rock brand in March 2007 and owns seven casinos in Florida alone – Garfinkel said the deal, which the NFL approved this week, “is compliant with the current policy. The deal we did isn’t with the casino. The deal is with the entertainment brand of Hard Rock, the hotels, the restaurants, the live music brand,” according to the news agency.
Contrary to popular belief, the NFL’s gambling policy does not prohibit players or NFL personnel from attending “legally-operated casinos and horse or dog racing tracks” for the purpose of wagering on races or casino games on their own personal time. However, it does prohibit “Entering into, utilizing, or otherwise visiting a “sports book” at any time during the NFL playing season,” according to the NFL Compliance Plan (pdf).