Hard Rock Stadium hosted the ultimate showdown between the NFC and AFC Conferences – Super Bowl LIV – on February 2. It was the sixth time the venue has hosted the Super Bowl and the first since 2010 when the New Orleans Saints triumphed over the Indianapolis Colts.
It’s currently home to the NFL franchise the Miami Dolphins for eight games per season, with the team’s training facility located elsewhere in the city. They are the primary tenant, although the NCAA team Miami Hurricanes also play their six home matches in the stadium. It also plays host to the Miami Open tennis tournament, which begins in late March and ends in early April.
There has been a lot of changes since the stadium last hosted the game. In 2015, it underwent a series of renovations to keep it in line with modern-day grounds. A roof was added to provide protection to the players from the Florida heat, while new seats were also added. Improvements were made to the concourses, while high-definition video screens were placed in all four corners of the stadium.
February is the perfect time to visit Miami given the weather. The temperature ranges in the region of 64 to 75F, the humidity is not stifling, and it’s not hurricane season – making it ideal for traveling fans to make their way to Miami for the Super Bowl festivities.
The stadium has been open since 1987 and has been a regular port of call for organizers of major events, including WrestleMania, two World Series and four BCS National Championship Games. There is also speculation that it may be a part of the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in Miami in 2021. It has in the past and continues to be a reliable host for major sporting contests.
Super Bowl XXIII – San Francisco 49ers 20-16 Cincinnati Bengals
The 49ers won the third Super Bowl of their dynasty by defeating the Bengals in Miami. Joe Montana led his team downfield in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter. Down by four points, Bill Walsh’s men needed a touchdown to overturn the deficit and win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Quarterback Joe Montana connected with John Taylor for a 10-yard score to secure the victory for the NFC side. Wide receiver Jerry Rice was named Super Bowl MVP for his 11-catch, 215-yard performance that included a touchdown – the 215 yards remain a Super Bowl record to this day.
Super Bowl XXIX – San Francisco 49ers 49-26 San Diego Chargers
The contest at the end of the 1995 season was one of the most one-sided Super Bowls in the history of the game. It was the final triumph of the 49ers’ great dynasty as Steve Young dismantled the Broncos’ defense by throwing six touchdowns – the most in Super Bowl history – to guide his team to a thumping victory. Jerry Rice was once again influential catching three of those scores while racking up 151 yards in the process. The Chargers had no answer for San Francisco and have not returned the title game since their crushing defeat.
Super Bowl XXXIII – Denver Broncos 34-19 Atlanta Falcons
John Elway won his first Super Bowl at the age of 38 in Miami with a hammering of the Atlanta Falcons. Elway had failed in his previous two attempts to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy, but he and his team-mates got over the line.
Elway produced a fine performance and was named MVP for the game ahead of wideout Rod Smith, who notched 152 receiving yards, including an 80-yard touchdown. The Falcons were not able to compete with their AFC rivals, although Tim Dwight returned a kickoff for a touchdown with a 94-yard score even though the game was all but over at that point.
Super Bowl XLI – Indianapolis Colts 29-17 Chicago Bears
Miami has been the site of two of the great quarterbacks finally getting over the hump to win their first Lombardi Trophy. Elway was one and Manning was the other, easing the pressure on the Colts quarterback as his team had to do it the hard way. Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards to put the Bears ahead. Unusually for Miami, rain was pouring down, making life difficult for both quarterbacks to throw the ball downfield.
Manning did connect with Reggie Wayne for a 53-yard touchdown to get the Colts on the board, while Dominic Rhodes put them ahead in the second half. Kelvin Hayden iced the game in the fourth quarter, returning an interception from Rex Grossman for a score and ending the Bears’ hopes of making a comeback. Manning was named MVP for a middling performance.
Super Bowl XLIV – New Orleans Saints 31-17 Indianapolis Colts
Manning was on the reverse end of a pick-six in his next appearance in the Super Bowl in Miami. He and Drew Brees battled it out for four quarters in an epic duel between two of the games’ best quarterbacks. Saints head coach Sean Payton deployed a surprise onside kick to great effect to take a possession away from Manning and the Colts. From that point onwards, momentum appeared to shift in the favour of the Saints after being a 50/50 contest.
A touchdown to Jeremy Shockey put New Orleans 24-17 in the fourth quarter. Manning had the chance to respond but threw a pick-six to Tracy Porter to hand the Lombardi trophy to the Saints, while Brees was named MVP of the game for his performance.