Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to Be a Devils Fan In South Florida -- 2014-15 Edition

This coming Saturday, the New Jersey Devils travel to play the Florida Panthers, who are now the only Miami-area team without a World Championship -- and, with the Islanders bound for Brooklyn and the Arizona Coyotes (formerly the Phoenix Coyotes, formerly the old Winnipeg Jets, not to be confused with the new Winnipeg Jets, formerly the Atlanta Thrashers) having their ownership situation settled, the Panthers now seem like the NHL most likely to be the next to move, since few people seem to care about them.

This may be the only NHL arena that Devils fans can "take over," have more fans than the locals. If you'd like to be one of them, take heed.

DISCLAIMER: While I have been to Orlando and Tampa, I have never been to the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area; therefore, all of this information is secondhand. However, I have based it on information from local sources, including the Marlins’ own website, so it is presumably accurate and up-to-date.

Before You Go. It's South Florida, but in October: While it may not be hot, presume that it will be humid and possibly rainy. Check the Miami Herald and Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel websites for their local forecast before you go.

Currently, that Saturday will be in the mid-80s during the day, the high 70s at night, which we're not used to up here. But they say there won't be rain. That won't delay or postpone the game, since (except for an annual New Year's Day and a few other occasions) hockey is played indoors. But you still want to be comfortable. This will likely be your last time wearing summer clothes until next May.

Miami is in the Eastern Time Zone, so you won't have to fiddle with your watch or the clock on your smartphone.

Tickets. Last season, the Panthers averaged 14,177 fans per game – next-to-last in the National Hockey League, and ahead of only the Phoenix Coyotes (who just officially changed their name to the Arizona Coyotes, as if that will make a difference). They averaged 83 percent of capacity, 26th out of 30, ahead of the Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets -- 4 Sun Belt cities, and 1 where there are 2 seasons: Ohio State football and Ohio State spring football.

This might also have something to do with the fact that the BB&T Center -- the 5th name the building has had in its 16 years of existence, mirroring the Flyers in a way that does not suggest success -- is 20 miles west of downtown Fort Lauderdale, and 35 miles northwest of downtown Miami. Apparently, this organization did not learn the lesson of the Richfield Coliseum. The Cleveland Cavaliers thought that people would no longer go into the city to watch their awful team, so they should move it to the suburbs, where their fan base (read: White people who would pay to watch basketball played by black men, as long as they didn't have huge Afros or bad attitudes but did have some white teammates) lived. So the Coliseum was built in the middle of farmland, 20 miles south of downtown Cleveland and 20 miles northwest of downtown Akron, and their attendance sucked for 20 years until they moved to downtown Cleveland. The Panthers made the same mistake.

At any rate, tickets would ordinarily be easy to get. But since this is their home opener, it appears to be sold out. Their team website does have an option for "Try 'Find Resale Tickets' Below."

The normal prices: Premium Center Ice, $93; Premier Lower Side and Endzone Seating, $73; (non-premium) Center Ice Seating, $73; Goalzone Area Seating, $60; 1st Row of Balcony Center Seating, $40; Lower Bowl Side Seating, $31; Lower Bowl Endzone Seating, $31; and Side Balcony Seating, $20.

Getting There. It’s 1,253 miles from the Prudential Center in Newark to the BB&T Center in Sunrise. Knowing this distance, your first reaction is going to be to fly down there. This is not a horrible idea, as the flight is just 3 hours.

Fort Lauderdale does have an international airport, but you'd have to change planes in Charlotte, and it's going to run you over $1,200. It's much cheaper just flying to Miami, possibly under $700, and while you may still have to change planes in Charlotte, the possibility of a nonstop is there.

The train is not a very good idea, because you’ll have to leave Newark's Penn Station on Amtrak’s Silver Star at 11:22 AM and arrive in Fort Lauderdale at 5:12 the next day’s afternoon, a 30-hour ride. The return trip will leave at 9:00 AM and return to Newark at 10:46 AM, “only” 26 hours – no, as I said earlier, there’s no time-zone change involved. Round-trip, it’ll cost $368. And the station isn’t all that close, at 200 SW 21st Terrace. Fortunately, the Number 22 bus will take you to a short walk from the arena. Unfortunately, that sounds a lot like trying to get a bus to and from the Nassau Coliseum, which is not fun.

How about Greyhound? There are 7 buses leaving Port Authority every day with connections to Miami, only one of them nonstop, the 10:30 PM to 3:30 AM (2 days later) version. The rest require you to change buses in Richmond and Orlando. (I don't know about changing buses in Orlando, but I have changed buses in Richmond, and I can tell you: It is not fun.) The ride, including the changeovers, takes about 30 hours. Round-trip fare is $374, but you can get it for $208 on advanced-purchase. The station is at 515 NE 3rd Street. You'll need to take the Number 50 bus to the Number 72 bus to get to the arena.

If you want to drive, it'll help to get someone to go down with you, and take turns driving. You’ll be going down Interstate 95 (or its New Jersey equivalent, the Turnpike) almost the whole way. It’ll be about 2 hours from the Lincoln Tunnel to the Delaware Memorial Bridge, 20 minutes in Delaware, and an hour and a half in Maryland, before crossing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, at the southern tip of the District of Columbia, into Virginia. Then it will be 3 hours or so in Virginia, another 3 hours in North Carolina, about 3 hours and 15 minutes in South Carolina, a little under 2 hours in Georgia, and about 5 hours and 45 minutes in Florida before you reach Fort Lauderdale. Given rest stops, preferably in one in each State from Maryland to Georgia and 2 in Florida, you’re talking about a 28-hour trip.

Once In the City. Naming a Florida town "Sunrise" makes some sense. The U.S. Army established a stockade named Fort Lauderdale in 1836, named for the commander of the detachment of soldiers who built the first fort, Major William Lauderdale. The town was incorporated in 1911, at the beginning of the first building boom in Florida. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area is a big market, with about 5.6 million people. But while Miami has about 425,000 people within the city limits, Fort Lauderdale has just 165,000.

Because Florida is so hot, and air-conditioning didn't become common until the mid-20th Century, Miami was founded rather late by the standards of the East coast, in 1825, and wasn't incorporated as a city until 1896. The name is derived from the Mayaimi tribe of Native Americans. Miami Avenue is the east-west divider, Flagler Street the north-south. 

The Miami Herald, Fort Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel, and the Palm Beach Post are the major newspapers in the area. And, considering how many ex-New Yorkers are around, you might also be able to get the Times, the Daily News, or, if you're really desperate (or really conservative), the Post.

Numbered Streets go east-west in Fort Lauderdale, while numbered Avenues and Terraces go north-south. The east-west divider is Andrews Avenue, and the north-south divider is Broward Blvd. The sales tax in Florida is 6 percent, but it's 7 percent within Miami-Dade County. Since 1984, South Florida has had a rapid-transit rail service, Metrorail. However, the arena can't be reached from it. You will need to take the Number 7 bus from downtown. The fare for the Metrorail and the Metrobus is $2.00.

Going In. The arena's official address is 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise, FL 33323. As near a I can tell, "Panther Parkway" is NW 136th Street. To get there from I-95 South, take Exit 129 onto Florida Route 70/Okeechobee Road. Take that to Florida's Turnpike South. Get off at Exit 71, for FL-869 S/Sawgrass Expressway. Take Exit 3 for FL-816/Oakland Park Blvd. Turn right from Oakland Park Blvd. onto N. Flamingo Road. The 2nd right is NW 136th Street.

To get there from downtown Fort Lauderdale, take U.S. Route 1/Federal Highway South to Interstate 595/Port Everglades Expressway West, to the Sawgrass Expressway. Take Exit 1B to Pat Salerno Drive, and the arena and its parking lot will be on your right.

To get there from downtown Miami, take I-95 North to Exit 12A onto Florida's Turnpike. Take Exit 54 to the Port Everglades Expressway, and then follow the directions from Fort Lauderdale.

For general parking, enter through Gate 1, 2, 3 or 7. Parking costs $20.

The Panthers attack twice toward the south end of the arena.

Food. With a great Hispanic, and especially Cuban, heritage, and also being in Southeastern Conference country (hello, tailgating), you would expect the hockey team in South Florida to have great food at their arena. But it looks like food is just about an afterthought at the BB&T Center.

It has restaurants accessible through their premium seating, such as the Penalty Box, the BB&T Chairman's Club and the Legends Lounge. There are also several bars that any fan at least age 21 and with money can use.

There are three food courts on each of the Plaza and Mezzanine Levels that include a wide selection of items on the menu. Guests also have an opportunity to enjoy dining on the two Party City Patios outside the Plaza Level food courts.

Team History Displays. Not much. The Panthers won the Eastern Conference in 1996 and the Southeast Division in 2012, and hang banners for those titles. But they have only 1 retired number: 93, for the year of their founding, for Bill Torrey, the former Islander boss who was their 1st general manager and built their conference title.

There are 8 individuals with a Panther connection who are in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but only 1, Pavel Bure, played more than 2 seasons for them (in his case, 3: 1999-2002). The other players are Dino Ciccarelli, Igor Larionov, Joe Nieuwendyk and Ed Belfour. In the "Builders" category, there's Torrey and 1st head coach Roger Neilson, for whom their press box is named.

They don't have a team Hall of Fame, but they do have a "Den Of Honor," located on the Plaza Level between Sections 115 and 121. It's a museum, featuring photos, jersey and other equipment, and other items connected to the franchise's 21-year history. According to their website, "It also honors the people and organizations that continue to help South Florida grow as a hotbed for youth and high school hockey." (Hockey hotbed? South Florida? I think someone's been out in the sun for too long.)

Stuff. The Panthers have Pantherland, a team store; and both a CCM Heritage Store at Section 122 and an Old Time Hockey Store at Section 112, paying tribute to early hockey (which, by this point, means anything prior to the team's establishment in 1993). There's also a Panthers IceDen in the nearby town of Coral Springs.

Since the Panthers don't have much history -- in those 21 years, they've made the Playoffs exactly 4 times -- don't expect to find too many books and DVDs about them. After their 1996 Conference Championship, Dave Rosenbaum wrote Miami Ice: Winning the NHL Rat Race With the Florida Panthers. (I'll explain the "rat" reference shortly.)

When the team began in 1993, they released a Florida Panthers Video Hockey Guide. The next year, an Inaugural Year tape, Heart & Soul. That's right, tape. Videotape. Amazingly, these 2 VHS releases and Miami Ice are available on But that's about it.

During the Game. Safety should not be an issue. The arena is an island in a sea of parking, and is nowhere near the ghettos of Miami.

South Florida is loaded with people who came from elsewhere, including ex-New Yorkers. The stereotype is that, when a New Yorker gets old, if he has enough money to do so, he moves to Miami. Especially if he’s Jewish. Or Italian. As a result, you may see a lot of people who used to go to Ranger or Islander games, some of whom maintain their old allegiances, get the MSG Network on their cable system, and have adopted the Panthers as their “second team.”

The Panthers' mascot is Stanley C. Panther, obviously named for the Stanley Cup (which, of course, hasn't yet been won by the team). Information about Stanley can be found at Stanley’s Den. In spite of Gary Glitter's 2 convictions for what used to be quaintly called "morals charges," the Panthers still use his "Rock and Roll Part 2" (a.k.a. "The Hey Song") as their goal song, adding a panther growl sound effect.

During the 1996 season, the Panthers' Scott Mellanby saw a rat in the locker room, and whacked it with his stick. He then used the same stick to score 2 goals in that night's game. John Vanbiesbrouck, the former Ranger goalie by then with the Panthers, called it not a hat trick, but a "rat trick." Thereafter, instead of fans throwing hats onto the ice when a players scored 3 goals in a game, they threw plastic or rubber rats when a player scored 2.

By the time they reached the Conference Finals, and knocked off the Philadelphia Flyers to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, they were throwing the rats after every goal. Even when Uwe Krupp scored the triple-overtime winner to give the Colorado Avalanche the Cup in Game 4 of the Finals, the fans used that last opportunity of the season to throw all their rats onto the ice, making it difficult to award the Cup. This resulted in an off-season rule change by the NHL that allowed for referees to penalize the home team if fans disrupt the game by throwing objects onto the ice. Nevertheless, on occasion, the fans still throw the plastic and rubber rats onto the ice, after 18 years.

After the Game. As I said, the arena isn't in a neighborhood. There's a mall with chain restaurants across 136th Avenue, but if that's not your cup of tea (or mug of beer), you may have to head back to Fort Lauderdale.

I checked for area bars where New Yorkers gather, and found one for each of the city’s NFL teams. The South Florida Jets Fan Club meets at Hammerjack’s, at 5325 S. University Drive in Davie, 11 miles southeast of the arena. American Social is the home of the local Giants fan club, and also caters to fans of the Yankees and Knicks, at 721 East Las Olas Blvd., 18 miles east in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Bokamper's, a bar chain run by former Miami Dolphin linebacker Kim Bokamper, has several outlets nearby.

Sidelights. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area’s sports history is long, but aside from football, it's not all that involved. I'll get the Fort Lauderdale ones out of the way first.

* Fort Lauderdale Stadium and Lockhart Stadium. Built in 1962, the Yankees moved their spring training headquarters to the 8,340-seat Fort Lauderdale Stadium after being assured that, unlike their spring home of St. Petersburg at the time, their black players could stay in the same hotel as their white players. The Yankees remained there until 1995, by which point Tampa was not only long since integrated, but was willing to pretty much anything city resident George Steinbrenner wanted, including build him a new spring home for the Yankees.

The Yankees' Class A team in the Florida State League also used it as a home field. After the Yankees left, the Orioles used it from 1996 to 2009. Although it no longer has a permanent tenant, or even a spring training tenant, it still stands, and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers use it as a practice facility. 1401 NW 55th Street.

Built in 1959, Lockhart is a 20,450-seat high school football stadium, across 55th Street from Fort Lauderdale Stadium, along 12th Avneue. It's been home to 4 different teams called the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, including the original NASL's version from 1977 to 1983, and the new NASL's version since 2011. It's hosted 3 games of the U.S. national soccer team, and also hosted Florida Atlantic University's football team from 2003 to 2010, after which their on-campus stadium opened. 5201 NW 12th Avenue.

For both stadiums, take Bus 14 from downtown Fort Lauderdale to Powerline Road & 56th Street, then walk 2 blocks west.

* Marlins Park and site of Orange Bowl. The Marlins' new stadium, with its garish Miami-themed architecture, opened in 2012 on the site of the stadium known as Burdine Stadium from its 1937 opening until 1959 and the Miami Orange Bowl thereafter. It was best known for hosting the Orange Bowl game on (or close to) every New Year’s Day from 1938 to 1995, and the NFL's Miami Dolphins from their debut in 1966 until 1986.

It was home to the University of Miami football team from 1937 to 2007 (famed for its fake-smoke entrances out of the tunnel). It was also the home of, if you count the All-America Football Conference of the 1940s, the first "major league" team in any of the former Confederate States: The 1946 Miami Seahawks. But the black players on the Cleveland Browns would not accept being housed away from their white teammates in segregated Florida, and in that league, what the Browns wanted, the Browns got. So the Seahawks (in no way connected the NFL's Seattle team of the same name) were moved to become the Baltimore Colts after just 1 season.

The Orange Bowl also hosted the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl, a game involving the 2nd-place teams in each of the NFL’s divisions from 1960 to 1969, a charity game, a glorified exhibition. Also known as the Playoff Bowl, it was considered so lame that Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi publicly called it “the only game I never want to win” – and he didn’t. The stadium also hosted the Miami Toros of the North American Soccer League from 1972 to 1976.

And it hosted 5 Super Bowls, most notably (from a New York perspective) Super Bowl III, when the Jets beat the Colts in one of the greatest upsets in sports history, on January 12, 1969. Super Bowl XIII, in 1979, was the last Super Bowl to be held there; all subsequent South Florida Super Bowls, including the one the Giants won in 2012, Super Bowl XLVI, have been held at the Dolphins’ stadium. So might Super Bowl LIII in 2019 or LIV in 2020, as the stadium is 1 of 4 selected as a finalist for those games, so there's a 50-50 chance it will host one of them; if not one of them, it will almost certainly host another within 5 years after that.

The U.S. national soccer team played 19 matches at the Orange Bowl, from 1984 to 2004. They didn't do so well, though, winning only 2 of them, drawing 10 and losing 7. And the biggest crowd they could get was 49,000 -- you'd think that, being in a heavily Hispanic city, they could draw "futbol" fans. Instead, most of the Hispanics came to see them play Latin American teams, and root for those teams. It was also the home of the North American Soccer League's Miami Toros, before they moved up I-95 to become the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

The Orange Bowl was where the Dolphins put together what remains the NFL’s only true undefeated season, in 1972. The Canton Bulldogs had gone undefeated and untied in 1922, but there was no NFL Championship Game in those days. The Chicago Bears lost NFL Championship Games after going undefeated and untied in the regular seasons of 1932 and ’42. And the Browns went undefeated and untied in the 1948 AAFC season, but that’s not the NFL. The Dolphins capped their perfect season by winning Super Bowl VII, and then Super Bowl VIII. And yet, despite having reached the Super Bowl 5 times, and Miami having hosted 10 of them, the Dolphins have never played in a Super Bowl in their home region. (They’ve done so in New Orleans, in Houston, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and twice in the Los Angeles area.)

They also haven’t been to one in 30 seasons, which includes all of their history in their new stadium. Curse of Joe Robbie, anyone? From Fort Lauderdale, take Tri-Rail to the Miami International Airport station, then transfer to the Number 7 bus.

* Sun Life Stadium. Better known by its original name, Joe Robbie Stadium, after the Dolphins' original owner (although legendary entertainer Danny Thomas also had a stake in the team in its first few years). The Marlins reached the postseason here twice, in 1997 and 2003, and won the World Series both times. In other words, they've never lost a postseason series. Contrast that with the Dolphins: Only once, in their first 27 seasons in the Dolphin Tank, have they even reached the AFC Championship Game (in January 1993, and they lost at home to the Bills).

But don't think that the stadium was better for the Marlins: It was a football stadium, with a baseball field wedged into it, and it wasn't really adequate for the horsehide game. It is, however, still regarded as one of the better stadiums in the NFL, despite having been built before Camden Yards rewrote the rules of stadium construction.

It's hosted a number of soccer games, including such storied names as Arsenal (beating Argentine club Independiente in 1989),Manchester United and A.C. Milan. The U.S. national team played Honduras there on October 8, 2011, and won -- but only 21,900 attended.

Now that the Marlins are out, the official address of the stadium is 347 Don Shula Drive, for the number of games that Shula won as an NFL head coach -- although that counts the postseason, and the games he won as boss of the Colts. (But not Super Bowl III, which he lost as coach of the Colts.) It's between NW 199th and 203rd Streets (199th is renamed Dan Marino Blvd.), and NW 21st and 26th Avenues. Take Metrorail toward Palmetto, and get off at the Martin Luther King Jr. station. (I doubt if a sports stadium in the Miami suburbs was a part of Dr. King’s dream, although stadiums and performing-arts venues with racially-integrated seating, particularly in the South, sure were.)

* Comfort Inn. This hotel, across 36th Street from the airport, was the site of the Playhouse, once considered one of South Florida’s finest banquet halls. It was here, on January 9, 1969, 3 days before the Super Bowl, at a dinner organized by the Miami Touchdown Club, that Joe Namath of the Jets was speaking, and some drunken Colts fan yelled out, “Hey, Namath! We’re gonna kick your ass on Sunday!” And Joe said, “Let me tell you something: We got a good team. And we’re gonna win. I guarantee it!” He was right. NW 36th Street between Curtiss Parkway and Deer Run. MetroRail toward Palmetto, to Allapattah Station, then transfer to the 36 Bus.

* Site of Miami Stadium. Also known as Bobby Maduro Stadium, this was the home of the original Miami Marlins, of the Florida State League. Seating 13,000, it was known for its Art Deco entrance and a roof that shielded nearly the entire seating area, to protect fans from the intense Miami weather.

The FSL team that played here was known as the Sun Sox from 1949 to 1954, the Marlins from 1956 to 1960, the Marlins again from 1962 to 1970, the Miami Orioles from 1971 to 1981, and the Marlins again from 1982 to 1988.  It was the spring training home of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1950 to 1957, the Dodgers in their first season in Los Angeles in 1958 (it can be said that “the Los Angeles Dodgers” played their first game here, not in California), and the Baltimore Orioles from 1959 to 1990. The FSL Pennant was won there 7 times: 1950, 1952 (Sun Sox), 1969, 1970 (old Marlins), 1971, 1972 and 1978 (Orioles).

It was demolished in 2001, and The Miami Stadium Apartments were built on the site. 2301 NW 10th Avenue, off 23rd Street. It’s just off I-95, and 8 blocks north and east from the Santa Clara MetroRail station.

* American Airlines Arena. The "Triple-A" has been the home of the NBA’s Miami Heat since 2000, including their 2006, 2012 and 2013 NBA Championship seasons. 601 Biscayne Blvd. (U.S. Routes 1 & 41), between NE 6th and 8th Streets, across Port Blvd. from the Bayside Marketplace shopping center (not exactly their version of the South Street Seaport) and the Miami outlets of Hooters, the Hard Rock Café and Bubba Gump Shrimp. The closest rapid-rail station is Overtown – ironically, the same stop for the previous sports arena…

* Site of Miami Arena. Home of the Heat from their 1988 debut until 1999 (the new arena opened on Millennium Eve, December 31, 1999), and the NHL’s Florida Panthers from their 1993 debut to 1998, this building was demolished in 2008. Only 20 years? Apparently, like the multipurpose stadiums of the 1960s and ‘70s, and the Meadowlands Arena and (soon?) the Nassau Coliseum, it served its purpose – getting teams to come in – and then quickly became inadequate.

Nevertheless, when the Overtown race riot happened in January 1989, just before Super Bowl XXIII, area residents took great pains to protect this arena from damage (and the Miami area from the public-relations nightmare that would have occurred had there been a riot during Super Bowl week), and succeeded. 701 Arena Blvd., between Miami Avenue, NW 1st Avenue, and 6th and 8th Streets. Overtown/Arena rail station.

* Sports Immortals Museum. This museum is in Boca Raton, at 6830 N. Federal Highway (Route 1), 50 miles north of downtown Miami. It's got a statue of Babe Ruth, and some memorabilia on display.  However, some people have reported that much of the memorabilia they sell has been judged to be fake by authenticators, so buyer beware. Theoretically, it's reachable by public transportation from Miami, but you'd need to take a bus to a train to a bus to a bus (32 to Tri-Rail to 70 to 1), and it would take about 3 hours. If you don't have the time to make for this, by car or otherwise, skip it.

* Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. For the last 30 or so years of his life, the Yankee Clipper lived in South Florida, and while he pretty much ignored his one and only child, son Joe Jr., he adored his grandchildren and children in general. He was a heavy donor to local hospitals, and the Children's Hospital named for him was established in 1992. There is now a statue of him there. 1005 Joe DiMaggio Drive, Hollywood. about 20 miles north of downtown Miami. 22 bus to Hollywood Tri-Rail station, then a mile's walk.

* Miami Beach Convention Center. Opened in 1957, it seats 15,000 people. The American Basketball Association’s Miami Floridians played here from 1968 to 1972. The 1968 Republican Convention, and both major parties’ Conventions in 1972, were held here. Why? Simple: They wanted to be away from downtown, putting water between themselves and wherever the hippies and another antiwar demonstrators were staying.

This building hosted the heavyweight title fights of 1961 (Floyd Patterson-Ingemar Johansson III, Floyd won) and 1964 (Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston I, Clay winning and then changing his name to Muhammad Ali). Just 9 days before Ali forced his “total eclipse of the Sonny,” on February 16, 1964, the Beatles played their 2nd full-length U.S. concert here. (A photo exists of the Beatles visiting Ali at his Miami training center, and he knocks the 4 of them over like dominoes.) Elvis Presley gave a pair of concerts here on September 12, 1970.

Convention Center Drive between 17th Street and Dade Blvd. The Jackie Gleason Theater, where “The Great One” taped his 1960s version of The Jackie Gleason Show (including a revival of The Honeymooners) is next-door. This, and any other Miami Beach location, can be reached via the 103, 113 or 119 Bus, or car, over the MacArthur Causeway.

* Coconut Grove Convention Center. This former Pan Am hangar, attached to the Dinner Key Marina, has been used as a Naval Air Station, convention center, concert hall and sports arena (the Floridians played a few home games here). It’s also been known as the Dinner Key Auditorium. On March 1, 1969, The Doors gave a concert here, and lead singer Jim Morrison supposedly committed an indecent act there. (Yeah, he told the crowd, “I’m from Florida! I went to Florida State! Then I got smart and moved to California!”) Pan American Drive at 27th Avenue. Number 102 Bus to Number 48.

* Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. Formerly the Olympic Theater, Elvis sang here early in his career, on August 3 and 4, 1956. 174 E. Flagler Street, downtown.

Miami isn't a big museum city. The big two are the Miami Science Museum, at 3280 S. Miami Avenue (Vizcaya Station on Tri-Rail); ; and the Miami Art Museum, at 101 W. Flagler Street (downtown).

There has never been a President from Florida, and, therefore, no Presidential Birthplaces or Libraries in the State. But as I write this, former Governor, son of one President and brother of another, John Ellis "Jeb" Bush has been talking about running in 2016. (Not a chance: The Bush name is still mud outside States that aren't blood-Red.)

The Kennedy family had a compound in Palm Beach, but sold it in 1995. It's still in private hands, and not open to the public. There was a "Little White House" in Key West (111 Front Street), used by Harry Truman (and, to a lesser extent, his immediate successors Dwight D. Eisenhower and Kennedy), and it's open to tours. But that's a long way from Miami: 160 miles, with no public transportation between the 2 cities, and Greyhound charges $110 round-trip for a 4 1/2-hour ride.

Several TV shows have been set in Miami. A restaurant called Jimbo’s Place was used to film scenes from Flipper and Miami Vice, and more recently CSI: Miami and Burn Notice. It’s at 4201 Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne, accessible by the Causeway (by car) and the 102 Bus (by public transportation). Greenwich Studios has been used to film Miami Vice, True Lies, There’s Something About Mary and The Birdcage. It’s at 16th Avenue between 121st and 123rd Streets, in North Miami, and often stands in for Miami Beach for the TV shows and movies for which it’s used. 93 Bus.

If you’re a fan of The Golden Girls, you won’t find the house used for the exterior shots: It’s actually in Los Angeles. If you're a fan of those not-quite-golden girls, the Kardashian sisters, the penthouse they use to tape the Miami edition of their "reality show" is on Ocean Drive between 1st and 2nd Streets in Miami Beach.


You don't have to be old to be a New Yorker in Miami -- but it helps to be a sports fan. Who knows, the Mets might even get a little bit of revenge for those season-ending series of 2007 and '08.

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