On GameDay we all met at a tent inside the stadium and were taken down for a pregame field pass. I was surprised by the large number of fans on the field with us on the field. Easily close to 400-500 people. It was little difficult to get any pics close to the field with the crowd. But, I was able to get a few including former Dolphin first round pick Ronnie Brown signing autographs, who is playing for The Chargers for the past few years. We were on the field for about thirty minutes before we were brought off the field on our way to the stadium. I believe the other web sites and fan clubs were in section 150 provided by the Dolphins. Some of us were season ticket holders and used our own seats.
Overall, it was a great experience and I was lucky enough to represent the club a few years ago and Scott Stone of the Dolphins has really fine tuned this event into a great weekend.
Second we had a very informative and entertaining talk from CEO Tom Garfinkel. We heard some details of the major renovation happening at SunLife Stadium. They have done a lot of infrastructure and concession upgrades. Along with many things that are not seen by the public at this point. I am looking forward to seeing if the food has been improved? As a Club Level season ticket holder the food has not been very good at all in the past.. Starting at the end of this season the lower bowl will be taken out and extended closer toward the field with new ergonomic seats in the lower and upper levels installed. There will also be new high end screens installed in each of the four upper corners of the stadium. There will be about 7,000 less seats at SunLife Stadium but those were seats that were hard to sell in the past. I believe it will be around 67,000 seats when finished. The posts for the new canopy will be installed, as well. Then after the 2015 season the new canopy will be put in and the Club level will be renovated last.
We had a fun talk with former players AJ Duhe and Chris Chambers to end the evening. Duhe is hilarious and we all really enjoyed him. He works for a casino now for many years. He had many funny stories of former players and Coach Shula. One in particular, he said they had a 10pm curfew at a hotel in training camp and Coach Shula believed there were some players sneaking out at night. Shula gave the man working the elevator a football and marker and asked him to get it autographed by any player that came into the elevator at night. The next day at practice Shula brought in the football signed by all the players who had snuck out of the hotel the night before. None could deny it with their autographs as hard evidence, haha... Duhe asked around the room to see who came the longest way for web weekend and when he heard Dolfan UK and asked to hear my accent. He was a little disappointed to hear my Midwest USA accent from Ohio, haha...
Chris Chambers was always a favorite player of mine and it was great to hear him talk about his career and especially the way he was traded to the Chargers during the year of Cam Cameron. It came as quite a shock to him... I got to speak with him at the end of the evening. He looks like he should still be playing. He owns a high end training center in South Florida called the Chamber.
The best part of the weekend were the talks in the auditorium from GM Dennis Hickey, CEO Tom Garfinkel and former players AJ Duhe and Chris Chambers. GM Dennis Hickey was very engaging with us and we all found it very interesting getting a small glimpse of the process of the draft and choosing Veteran Free Agents. The process is so much more complicated than any fan could imagine and even with all of the tremendous process there are still failures that are unforeseen. One of the great successes that GM Hickey was very proud of was the choice of LSU's Jarvis Landry in the second round. He says they were still able to trade down in the round and draft him. Besides the productive rookie season he has had through the first 8 weeks of the season. The Dolphins feel he is the type of person they want with the Dolphins organization.
The afternoon was our big event of a tour of the training facility in Davie. We first went to the newly renovated locker room. It truly is an incredible facility and a privilege to see it up close. They asked us not to take many photos because it is private and many of the players have family photos in plain sight. So, I took a few with none of the lockers too close. We then had a very brief view inside the training bubble. It was being used to rehearse for the halftime show for the Chargers game. I think we were inside for about 15-20 minutes? Following this there was a small meal for everyone in the cafeteria.
I was lucky enough to to be able to represent our Dolfan UK clubduring the Chargers game. I arrived directly from Australia on Friday night and went to a charity event on Saturday morning to fold coin banks at a local church for underprivileged children. I believe it was around 25,000 coin banks total that we assembled. We had about maybe half of the attendees represented in the morning.