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Highest Bidder Wins: History of Names on Sports Stadiums Across South Florida

NBC 6 looks back at South Florida’s sports venues to truly ask maybe the most important question: what’s in a name?

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In the world of South Florida’s sports teams, one thing might be more common than the number of players who have suited up: the number of different names on the stadiums located across Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

In recent weeks, a trio of teams in the area - the Miami Heat, Miami Marlins and Inter Miami CF - all announced new sponsorship deals for their home venues that add to a growing name-change list that has included beer companies, clothing lines that no longer exist and financial companies based in Canada.

With Inter Miami set to kick off its second season Sunday inside their newly renamed home, NBC 6 looks back at South Florida’s sports venues to ask maybe the most important question: what’s in a name?

Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Dolphins, Miami Hurricanes football)

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 02: A detail view of the Hard Rock Stadium logo is seen in game action during the Super Bowl LIV game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers on February 2, 2020 at Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami Gardens, FL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Opened in 1987 in what is now the city of Miami Gardens, the stadium has gone through the most name changes with nine different names over the course of its history.

Jan 22, 1989 - Miami, Florida, USA - San Francisco 49ers against Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 23 at Joe Robbie Stadium. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

The most iconic of those names was its first, when Joe Robbie Stadium welcomed fans with a name honoring the former Dolphins owner who paid for the venue to be built.

18 Oct 1997: General view of the first inning during game one of the World Series between the Florida Marlins and the Cleveland Indians at Pro Player Park in Miami, Florida. The Marlins won the game 7-4.

After almost a decade with the name and welcoming the then-called Florida Marlins, the corporate sponsorship began with Pro Player taking over (once as Pro Player Park, once as Pro Player Stadium) before becoming Dolphins Stadium in 2005 and Dolphin Stadium (big difference) one year later.

Fans await the start of the game as the New Orleans Saints face the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, February 7, 2010 in Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Terry Gilliam/MCT/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

New team owner Stephen Ross found sponsorship money with Land Shark beer, owned by musician Jimmy Buffett, followed by stints back as Dolphin Stadium and six years as Sun Life Stadium. The venue was called New Miami Stadium for six months in 2016 before signing a long-term deal with its current name sake, the Hard Rock Stadium.

AmericanAirlines Arena (Miami Heat)

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 08: A general view of the AmericanAirlines Arena is seen on May 08, 2020 in Miami Florida. According to reports the Miami Heat are looking to possibly reopen their facilities at the arena on May 11. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Yes, that is still technically the name of the Biscayne Boulevard venue through the end of the current NBA season. Next season, the home of the Miami Heat will become the FTX Arena and welcome the cryptocurrency company into the world of naming rights.

It will be the first name change for the arena, which was named after the airline giant before opening on New Year’s Eve 1999. During that time, it has hosted games in five of the Heat’s six appearances in the NBA Finals that included title clinching games in both 2012 and 2013.

loanDepot park (Miami Marlins)

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 20: A general view of the field during the game between the Miami Marlins and the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park on September 20, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Opening in 2012 after the Marlins spent nearly two decades in Miami Gardens, the team first changed its name to Miami and moved into Marlins Park.

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It was a name that stayed for close to a decade before the California-based mortgage company loanDepot became the new name (with that interesting spelling) ahead of 2021’s Opening Day.

BB&T Center (Florida Panthers)

2002 Season: National Car Rental Center, Home of the Florida Panthers. (Photo by James Baker/Getty Images)

South Florida’s pro hockey team moved to Broward County in 1998 to the brand-new arena in Sunrise that, when it opened, was called the National Car Rental Center. It stayed that way until the fall of 2002, when it become the Office Depot Center before changing to the BankAtlantic Center in 2005.

SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 3: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers and teammates Goaltender Chris Driedger #60, Patric Hornqvist #70 present teammate Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky #72 a commemorative silver hockey stick celebrating his 500th NHL game, only the third Russian goaltender to do so prior to the start of the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the BB&T Center on April 3, 2021 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

In 2012, BB&T bought the bank and put their name on the venue - but that name likely won’t last long as the bank merged with SunTrust to now be called Truist. The new name was planned to be placed on the arena last year, but the COVID pandemic delayed that from taking place.

DRV PNK Stadium (Inter Miami CF)

Players stretch on the field as the new stadium is being built in the distance during Inter Miami's first practice at their new training site, former Lockhart Stadium, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. (Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The arena that was once called the Fort Lauderdale Stadium, which now houses South Florida’s second MLS team, is the latest subject to undergo a name change. Last week, AutoNation acquired the property's rights and announced plans to rename it DRV PNK Stadium as part of company's awareness campaign for breast cancer research.

The stadium opened last year for the inaugural season of the Herons, with the opener delayed until the summer amid the pandemic. Inter Miami plans to continue play in the stadium until a new home, possibly the yet to be sponsored Miami Freedom Park, is completed with a scheduled date as early as March 2022.

Former Venues

12 Feb 2000: An exterior shot of the Orange Bowl before the Gold Cup Game between Haiti and the USA in Miami, Florida. The USA defeated Haiti 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport

Maybe one of the most iconic stadiums in all of South Florida sports was Miami’s old Orange Bowl stadium, which sat for over seven decades on the site of the current loanDepot park. Ironically, the Orange Bowl wasn’t the name of the stadium for its first 25 years, having initially been called Burdine Municipal Stadium after the family of the department store.

MIAMI - NOVEMBER 5: Fans gather outside the Miami Arena before the Miami Heat's first ever home game against the Los Angeles Clippers played November 5, 1988 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

The former home of the Miami Heat, Florida Panthers and Miami Hurricanes basketball, Miami Arena was one of the first venues in downtown Miami to house sporting events on a consistent basis. Its smaller size and lack of luxury boxes ultimately led to it being abandoned and torn down just 25 years after opening.

(Original Caption) 3/22/1959-Miami, FL: Miami Stadium. Yogi Berra of the Yankees is shown driving a long one for a homerun during an exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles.

On a smaller scale, Bobby Maduro Miami Stadium was home to both spring training and minor league baseball, including stints for both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Baltimore Orioles.

General view of the action in Lockhart Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, home of the Miam Fusion and venue for the 2000 MLS Pre-Season Training Camp (Photo by Matthew Ashton/EMPICS via Getty Images)

Lockhart Stadium was a Fort Lauderdale icon for nearly 60 years, housing high school football and the former Fort Lauderdale Strikers before being torn down to become what is now DRV PNK Stadium.

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