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Orange BowlOrange Bowl Classic

Orange Bowl on Dec. 30, 2017 at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

The legacy of the Orange Bowl as a world-class event stadium was built on its ability to accommodate world champions and championship occasions. It was in the Orange Bowl where the Miami Dolphins held its only undefeated season; where the University of Miami won three national collegiate football championships; where the world crowned its undisputed Welter weight champion when Alexis Arguello fought Aaron Pryor. Football Bowl Game Schedule

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The Orange Bowl game and festival is one of the nation's most colorful annual spectacles. It was the brainchild of men with great imagination and foresight - but with few resources, who wanted to attract folks to Miami in the middle of the Great Depression. In 1932, George E. Hussey was athletic director for Florida Power & Light and Miami's official greeter. He, along with Earnie Seiler, Miami's recreation director, took notice of the media attention generated by California's Rose Bowl and parade. Miami could offer a similar climate at that time of the year. Hussey called Chick Meehan, a friend and coach of powerhouse Manhattan College. He asked Meehan if his team would play the University of Miami on New Year's Day. Meehan accepted. Although organizers were apprehensive about sending the 3-3-1 Hurricanes against such a formidable team, plans were set in motion for the first game in Miami.

It would be called the Palm Festival. To save on expenses, Manhattan took a three-day boat trip to Miami, but financial problems almost prevented the game from taking place. The organizers came up $1,500 short of their $3,000 guarantee to Manhattan and Meehan would not take the field until his team was fully paid. "That's when we made the sheriff our finance director," said Seiler. "Three hours before kickoff, the sheriff brought one of the local bookies to us who peeled off 15 crisp $100 bills from his bankroll and saved the game. "The organizers met with Coach Meehan and asked him to hold down the score. He agreed to ease up after his team scored three touchdowns. In the end, it was unnecessary. Miami beat the mighty Manhattan, 7-0, in the game played on a Moore Park field six inches deep in sand. The tradition that began that day has grown into the single largest tourist attraction in South Florida. The Palm Festival becomes the Orange Bowl

In 1934, W. Keith Phillips, then president of the Miami Chamber of Commerce, called a group together to put on another post-season football game that could be identified with Florida and Miami. Among them were Palm Festival veterans who had worked behind the scenes with organizers for two years.

The name Orange Bowl was put before the group and immediately embraced. On January 1, 1935, the game was played for the first time under the Orange Bowl banner. Bucknell was invited to oppose the Hurricanes and the Bison routed Miami, 26-0.By now, the organization referred to itself as the Orange Bowl Committee. It decided to arrange a game with two out-of-state teams, reasoning that two teams would double the nationwide interest. Thus, Catholic University was chosen to represent the North and Mississippi the South. The game was a squeaker. A missed extra point gave the win to Catholic, 20-19. CBS Radio's Bill Monday announced the game to a regional audience, costing the Orange Bowl $500 to cover the cost of lines. Committee hooks top CBS announcer.

Following the '36 bowl, the Committee signed a contract with CBS to broadcast the 1937 game on national radio. The Committee had somewhat embellished the magnificence of the stadium press box facilities and convinced CBS to send top announcer Ted Husing.

A week before Duquesne and Mississippi State were to play, ground was broken on a new stadium. Husing arrived several days ahead of the game to familiarize himself with the teams. He didn't get to see the "stadium" until game time; he was wheeled to night clubs, boat trips and members' homes to keep him occupied. Husing finally saw that his broadcast booth was nothing but a shed with a banner mounted over the wooden bleachers. After learning of the plans for the new stadium, he showed admiration for the ingenuity of the bowl's organizers and became one of the Orange Bowl's most vocal supporters. It may have helped Husing's enthusiasm that the '37 contest was won by Duquesne, 13-12, on an exciting 72-yard scoring pass from Boyd Brumbaugh to Earnie Hefferle in the final two minutes. Orange Bowl Stadium built; game hits big time in '39

The new Orange Bowl Stadium was dedicated on December 10, 1937, and was ready for the '38 Auburn-Michigan State game. For history buffs, the Orange Bowl Stadium underwent five expansions over the next 62 years. On March 3, 1939, Earnie Seiler, one of the organizers of the Palm Bowl, became the Orange Bowl's first full-time business manager. On May 15, the Committee incorporated as a non-profit organization and the Charter was signed by the first membership. Seiler's successful marketing approach and his subsequent delivery of undefeated Oklahoma catapulted the Orange Bowl into the "big time" in 1939. As the story goes, Seiler went to Norman to invite the Sooners to Miami, but he had competition from the Cotton, Sugar and Rose, who were offering twice as much guarantee money. Seiler chalked the Oklahoma campus sidewalks with slogans that read, "On to Miami" and "See You at the 1939 Orange Bowl." He showed Sooner players photos of Miami's beaches, water and pretty girls, and promised to set the team up with dates.

The players overwhelmingly voted for Miami. Oklahoma coach Tom Stidham, a friend of Tennessee coach General Robert Neyland, asked Neyland to bring his second-ranked Vols to Miami. The match-up of undefeated teams led to such media and public interest that, for the first time, the demand for tickets was more than the bowl could accommodate. More than 10,000 requests were denied and 32,191 fans jammed into the stadium, despite a listed capacity of 22,050. Spectators got their money's worth in the game. Tennessee shut out Oklahoma, 17-0.In the years that followed, the Orange Bowl grew into one of college football's "Big Four" bowls, taking its place with the Cotton, Sugar and Rose in producing championship football year in and year out. In its 68 years, the Orange Bowl Committee has seen 15 national champions come out of Miami, including six since 1991 - more than any other Bowl game in the country.

Hard Rock Stadium
Miami Gardens Florida


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