by Andrew Wodrich, Library Research Scholar
It was an exciting, confusing, and, unless you are the Carolina Panthers or Denver Broncos, probably disappointing season in the NFL. The Miami Dolphins saw their coach fired in week 5 after starting 1-3, while star players across the country, from Arian Foster to Tony Romo to Jamaal Charles, among many others, went down early in the season due to injuries. But even while the Dolphins and most NFL fans are ready to move on to next season, the final game of this season, the Super Bowl, will be hard to ignore.
Football Referees at Orange Bowl, 1976. From the Michael L. Carlebach Photography Collection
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, football and non-football fans alike will be tuning in from across the country to the game as well as pre-game specials. In fact, footage from the first Super Bowl game, something long thought lost, was recently found and aired by the organization as part of the lead-up to Super Bowl 50 (decidedly more impressive than Super Bowl L). The milestone reminds viewers of the Super Bowl’s cultural significance, not just as a championship of the season, but as a historical tradition.
In Miami, Super Bowl history also involves the history of one of its once most beloved landmarks, the Orange Bowl: the site of Super Bowls II (1968), III (1969), and V (1971). (Of course Super Bowl VII (1973) is of special significance here as well, as the year in which the Dolphins became the only team to go undefeated all the way–a record still held by the team.)
Now several years since the Orange Bowl was demolished and rebuilt as the Marlins Stadium, the stadium is well-remembered thanks not only to the Super Bowls it hosted early in the event’s history but also for the Miami Orange Bowl Festival, an annual event surrounding the bowl game. It was conceived in 1935 as a way to boost the economy of the region in the wake of the Depression and preceding land bust. The endeavor would have likely failed without the passion and dedication of one man, Earnie Seiler.
University of Miami football inflatable helmet in Orange Bowl, 1992. From the Michael L. Carlebach Photography Collection.
Seiler’s vision and drive led to the development of the traditional New Year’s Day football game, the extravagant halftime shows, and the King Orange Jamboree Parade–likened in scale and spirit to today’s Super Bowl festivities. As the Orange Bowl Festival grew, it accomplished its goals of increasing tourism to Miami and general awareness of the city outside of South Florida. By its 40th anniversary, the Orange Bowl Festival was generating over $45 million in direct revenue for South Florida and attracting the attention of some 75 million television viewers across the country.
The festival, known today as the Capital One Orange Bowl Festival, remains a popular attraction for South Floridians and visitors to ring in the New Year, while the annual Orange Bowl football game, as part of the rotating College Football Playoff, generates over $200 million annually for South Florida.
Original records related to Orange Bowl history are housed at the University of Miami. Explore these and related materials at UM Libraries:
Football and Orange Bowl Related Resources
Books and Collections
How Postmodernism Explains Football and Football Explains Postmodernism : The Billy Clyde Conundrum
Is There Life After Football?: Surviving the NFL
How to Watch Football: Saving America’s Game From Itself
The Little Red Book of Football Wisdom
Pro football Championships Before the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl of Advertising: Are The Advertisers Still Winning the Game?
The Orange Bowl Story : Its Beginning
The Orange Bowl Cookbook
50th Annual Orange Bowl Festival
Fifty Years on the Fifty: The Orange Bowl Story
University of Miami Archives Orange Bowl Collection
Videos and Recordings
30 for 30. No. 7, The U
The Blind Side
Friday Night Lights. The Complete Series
The Dynamic Young Dolphins