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CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami/AP) — The University of Miami may be losing their longtime president but they aren’t losing a fan of the Hurricanes.
Even though she’s leaving the Miami president’s office, Donna Shalala is keeping her Hurricane season tickets.
After all, she pays for them.
But even she isn’t sure where the team might be playing in a few years.
Shalala, who is ending her 14-year run as the university’s president on June 1 and had her tenure celebrated before thousands in an on-campus ceremony Thursday, said the Hurricanes’ current football home — Sun Life Stadium — is “too big and cavernous for a college of our size.”
As such, she said she’s thinking of potential solutions. Miami has been engaged in conversations with David Beckham’s group that is trying to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to South Florida, but no stadium plan for that team has been struck yet.
“I would love to do something before I leave,” Shalala said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to, but I’m putting in everybody’s head that we’ve got to figure this one out.”
The idea of Miami moving to another stadium is just that — an idea. The MLS deal is a long way from completed, and even if Miami shared a stadium with a new soccer club it would still have to find a way out of its lease with Sun Life.
Still, it’s something Shalala thinks is worth pursuing.
“I know this: Leasing space is not the best situation for anyone, for the Dolphins or for us,” Shalala said. “Being a tenant, we’ve had two tenancies, one at the Orange Bowl and one at Dolphins Stadium, and I don’t much like being a tenant.”
The Hurricanes have played at Sun Life since 2008, often to a stadium that’s half-filled, at best. The Orange Bowl was demolished after the 2007 season and is now the site of Marlins Park. Even when Miami was at the Orange Bowl, the stadium was rarely full, with proof there that the 2001 national-title season only drew an average of about 46,000 fans to home games.
Sun Life — about a half-hour’s drive from the Hurricanes’ campus — is in the midst of a renovation that will limit its seating capacity to about 65,000, with plans to drape off some sections and lower the capacity even more for Miami games. Miami has long thought that something in the range of 40,000-44,000 seats may be more suitable.
Shalala thinks that more intimate settings for games may become the national norm before long.
“It looks to me like these large-screen televisions are keeping people at home, that they can feel the football game a little better than they could in earlier generations,” Shalala said. “My instincts tell me that colleges are going to need smaller stadiums, that there’s something going on out there.”
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)