WEATHER NEWS: Dolphins shady home-field advantage makes opponents hot
Most NFL teams have a natural edge when playing on their home turf, but the Miami Dolphins have an extra advantage baked in when facing foes at Hard Rock Stadium. Their sideline is in the shade, while the sun beats down relentlessly on the opposition.
The difference, during some games, is 30 degrees or more.
As the Miami Dolphins hosted the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, the CBS camera crew couldn’t help but show the temperature difference from each sideline. At one point, the sideline temperatures for the Dolphins was 82 degrees, while the visitors endured a brutal 102 degrees.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski acknowledged the temperature disparity ahead of time.
“It will be warmer in the sun on our sideline so we will have plans for that,” Stefanski said in a news conference Wednesday. “I always tell the guys we don’t control the weather, we deal with it so whatever it is, it is, but I do want them to know ahead of time just to have the hydration and do the things that can help them leading into Sunday.”
The Dolphins took home a 39-17 victory.
The temperature at the start of Sunday’s game was a steamy 87 degrees, according to data from Miami International Airport. By the end of the game, temperatures were still in the sweaty low 80s. Temperatures in Miami have averaged about four degrees above normal this month, and this week it’s one of the few locations in the nation that will avoid an outbreak of cold air.
Average high temperatures in Miami at the start of preseason football are around 90 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. By the end of the season, they fall to a more comfortable 76 degrees. But in the sun, temperatures can be much hotter.
Hard Rock Stadium’s clever architectural design is to blame for the sideline discrepancies. When the Miami stadium was renovated between 2015 and 2016, engineers strategically planned to point the sun directly on the opponent’s sideline for the entire game while the home team’s sideline sat in the shade.
The Dolphins also regularly wear white for their home games which reflects sunlight. The opposing team wear their darker team colors which absorb solar energy and make it feel even hotter.
Throughout the season, television commentators have pointed out the disparity in sideline temperatures. The Dolphins have only one home loss this season, which somehave attributed to their weather advantage.
The Minnesota Vikings are the only team to hand the Dolphins a loss in Miami so far this season. The Vikings overcame a fourth-quarter deficit and scorching sidelines to secure a 24-16 win. During the Week 6 game, images of the Vikings’ 122-degree sideline compared with the Dolphins’ 90-degree sideline went viral.
But the team from the north was ready.
“I think we were well-prepared,” receiver Adam Thielen said after the game. “The way that we practiced inside all week, and a lot of guys had long sleeves and sweatshirts on, just trying to get used to playing in a little bit of warmth.”
The Vikings staff took numerous steps to help the players fight the heat, placing an emphasis on hydration and administering IV treatments while installing air-conditioned benches and sun shades.
“They did a great job of keeping us cool,” Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks said after the game.
The temperature advantage hasn’t always brought the Dolphins success. Miami made the playoffs for the first time in 13 years in 2016 and they haven’t gone since.
Some angry opposing fans have taken to social media to call the strategy “illegal,” but there’s nothing that bars football teams from taking advantage of the weather and stadium designs. At some point, all NFL teams are forecast to confront extreme weather situations that they aren’t accustomed to, from Florida’s sweltering sidelines to the notorious “Frozen Tundra” at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field.