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An Inside Look At Sun Life Stadium's $400M Renovation

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When football fans come to Sun Life Stadium in a couple of weeks for the first Miami Dolphins preseason home game and the first home game for the Miami Hurricanes, they'll notice a lot of changes.

The renovated stadium will have all new seating, upgraded suites and new concessions.

"We are in the final throws," Bill Senn told CBS4's David Sutta. Senn is the VP of Stadium Operations for the Miami Dolphins and he is probably the busiest guy in South Florida right now. "We have more than 1,000 workers on site right now."

He's in charge of the massive modernization of Sun Life Stadium.  He currently has people working day and night to get it done before the Dolphins kickoff against Atlanta on August 29th for the team's third pre-season game and first home game.

"With a thousand people on site we are spending an awful lot of money on a daily basis.  It's approximately $1 million dollars per day is what we are putting into the facility right now," explained Senn.

The task is tremendous. Every seat in the stadium has been replaced.

Sutta recently got a tour of the new stadium and its upgrades include the new suite seats which he called "pretty sweet."

"These are Vergera seats. They are made in Spain I believe," said Senn.

As part of their $400 million renovation of Sun Life Stadium, the team is installing 32 "living rooms" in the lower bowl of the stadium that come in groups of four with 30-inch wide recliners and an 18-inch television in front of each seat.

"Our guests have the option of four TV's, one TV, or no TV's in their boxes," explained Senn.

There will even be an APP to order food directly to your seat. The intent is to make it feel like you are in your living room.

New concessions are being installed and there will be some new options never seen before.

Some concessions toward the upper levels will not be ready until after the preseason. The setbacks stemming from the demolition.

"When you open things up, you find things that you didn't know.  So you'll find a conduit in a wall that you demolished that you didn't think you had to do something with.  You end up doing those types of things.  So there have been challenges throughout this," according to Senn.

The one thing that already looks great is the field.  The grass went in last month.

In renovating the seating bowl, the Dolphins dropped capacity from 75,000 to 65,000, moved the stands closer to the field, and put more seats in the lower bowl while eliminating thousands in the upper deck.

"We brought fans 9 rows closer to the action," said Senn. "So where we had a very wide sideline before we are going to be very nice and intimate for the coming games."

While the view may be better, some of the most anticipated improvements are still a year out. After the coming season, Phase 2 of the privately funded project will begin. That's when the shade canopy goes up and the scoreboards are replaced. Then in 2017, the parking lots will be redone, with tunnels and bridges planned to help keep the pedestrian traffic away from the vehicular traffic.

Massive upper sections have been removed for four,112-foot high definition screens.

"The sound system that's going to be in here will be second to none. It will be one of the loudest venues we believe in the NFL," described Senn.

The hope is that the Dolphins will be able not only to compete on the field but for you to leave your living room to see a game.

According to Senn, "You have to make it an attraction.  You have to provide the amenities that the guest have at home.  So that's been a big part of our focus.  How to make it feel like you are in your living room with 70,000 of your closest friends."

The Dolphins say that they will have all the major renovations done by the start of the regular season.

Of course, the Dolphins second preseason game takes place Saturday August 22nd in Charlotte, North Carolina when the Fins take on the Carolina Panthers. Kickoff is set for 7 o'clock and it's all here on CBS4, your official Miami Dolphins station. #FinsOn4.

Be sure to check out our live Dolphins blog where we will be posting season-long coverage, updates, photos, video, commentary and more during every Dolphins game of the 2015 season.

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