Now that we know which teams will be playing in the big game, we at RC thought it would be fun to take a closer look at the roof the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs will be playing under in Super Bowl LIV. Here’s what we learned about the roof above Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
When it was first constructed in 1987, Joe Robbie Stadium — as it was then called — had no roof. Built primarily for football in the fall, the roughly 75,000-capacity stadium has hosted some of the most exciting games in professional and collegiate sports. Yet after Major League Baseball expanded in 1993 and the Florida Marlins moved in, fans were subjected to South Florida’s oppressive summer heat.
A roof was in demand for several years, but multiple financing plans fell through — and attendance in all sports suffered. In 2010, the NFL threatened to keep the stadium from future Super Bowl consideration unless major renovations, including a roof, were completed. A large, open-air canopy was added to provide shade to fans and athletes below during the $350 million renovation project that began in 2015.
WHAT IS THAT?
Creating a flexible and indeterminate rooftop canopy above a 30-year-old stadium was a first-of-its-kind job in the United States and created significant challenges. The TPO structure is 350 feet tall, spans 14 acres, weighs 17,000 tons, and is supported by eight reinforced concrete “super” columns designed to withstand South Florida’s volatile weather.
‘ON THE MAP’
Coating such a large structure with a major profile like a Super Bowl site (the stadium’s hosted five) is a big job for many reasons.
Specifically, the owners and naming-rights sponsors called for applying the Hard Rock logo in an acrylic coating over 31,000 square feet of an existing TPO membrane roof that acts as a canopy over the spectator stands.
Winning it put SRG Roofing “on the map,” co-owners Steve Bolos and Kevin Kirkwood told RC for a story in 2017. They also said it helped establish serious business momentum that has consistently placed the company on RC’s Top 100 List of roofing contractors ever since.
“We were faced with an extremely tight deadline as the roof had to be completed by the home opener (in September),” Kirkwood told us for that story. “In addition to the timeline restrictions, there was the constant rain, wind and other typical weather conditions that come along with working in South Florida. The crew and operations worked around-the-clock in shifts to not only meet the deadline but exceeded the client’s expectations.”
BEYOND THE BOX
Highly sophisticated software was essential to the design and implementation of the stadium roof canopy, said Bruce Burt, one of the lead engineers on the project. 3D modeling was used in nearly every facet of planning, including structural analysis, modeling the behavior of the 64 locked steel coil structural cables, and choosing optimum crane locations.
“This project is an excellent example of the need for innovation and advanced analytical procedures in meeting the demands of current and future building design,” he wrote in STRUCTURE Magazine in Feb. 2018.
As mentioned earlier, five Super Bowls (1989, 1995, 1999, 2007, 2010) have been played at the stadium since it opened, but LIV will be the first under the roof canopy. As far as picking a winner, RC will stay on the sidelines. However, the 49ers’ favorable history there is undeniable. Two of the franchise’s five Super Bowl championships (1989, 1995) were won on the very same field.
Conversely, the Chiefs are winless in two postseason appearances at the stadium, with both losses against the Miami Dolphins coming in the AFC Wild Card round in 1991 and 1994.