FIU-Miami game at Marlins Park to feel like old times
Panthers host Hurricanes in 'home' game where Orange Bowl once stood
MIAMI – The Hurricanes may have played their final home game last weekend, but don't tell that to the thousands of Miami fans expected to pack Marlins Park a week from Saturday.
Florida International will host the crosstown rival Hurricanes for its Nov. 23 "home" game at the Major League Baseball stadium.
There will be plenty of common threads when these teams meet for just the fourth time ever.
FIU athletic director Pete Garcia was assistant recruiting coordinator for Miami during its 1991 national championship season. He later became director of football operations under then-head coach Butch Davis, who is now at the helm of the Panthers.
Marlins Park, which opened in 2012, was built on the site of the old Orange Bowl. It was the longtime home of the Hurricanes, who moved to Hard Rock Stadium in 2008.
The Panthers also played their home games at the Orange Bowl in 2007 while their on-campus stadium was being renovated.
Garcia coaxed Davis out of retirement in 2017 and worked with Miami to schedule the home-and-home series.
"Obviously, we would have loved to have this game on our campus in our stadium, but for this type of game, at this point in time, our stadium's not big enough," Garcia said Thursday after the Panthers practiced at Marlins Park. "So this is a perfect venue for this game, where a lot of great football games have been played."
It's also where a benches-clearing melee between the teams took place in 2006, resulting in the suspension of 29 total players and dismissal of two FIU players.
Garcia said he expects a sellout, "or close to it."
It will be the first football game played at Marlins Park since the last Miami Beach Bowl in 2016.
Davis served two stints at Miami, first as a defensive line coach from 1984-88. He returned to become head coach from 1995-2000.
"Those 11 years were remarkable," Davis said. "I was blessed to be a part of the program."
The Hurricanes are 3-0 all-time against FIU, including a 31-17 victory last year.
Garcia knew when scheduling the game that the demand would likely exceed capacity at the 20,000-seat Riccardo Silva Stadium, so Marlins Park was always top of mind as a potential host venue.
There are no future games between the teams scheduled, but Garcia hasn't ruled it out. Even, perhaps, a true home game at FIU.
"Our stadium is built like a Lego set, so as we have demand, we can build the upper deck and everything else, but we're not there yet," he said.
Davis said he's gotten several calls from former Miami players "wanting free tickets."
"But I told them they have to wear blue and gold," he joked.
Garcia said he's expecting the largest number of FIU recruits at Marlins Park for the game in program history.
"That's the way you build a program," he said.
A win would make FIU (5-5) bowl eligible for the third time in three seasons under Davis.
The Hurricanes (6-4), led by first-year head coach Manny Diaz, have won three straight after a 3-4 start to the season. They're already assured of making it back to a bowl, but a win against FIU -- especially on hallowed ground -- would be a fitting finish to the rivalry.
"For South Florida, this makes a lot of sense," Garcia said.
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