MIAMI -- As pregame tradition dictates, a cannon will boom and white smoke will pour from a tunnel leading out of the locker room. The Miami Hurricanes will emerge and run east into the night, traipsing across ground where John F. Kennedy spoke, Joe Namath made good on his Super Bowl guarantee and the Miami Dolphins were perfect.
A rusty old building, nothing but steel and concrete and ghosts, will shake in delight.
And an era will end.
For 70 years, the Hurricanes called this place home. The Orange Bowl, now an exquisite eyesore, hosted everything from Super Bowls to the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, from Hollywood movies to hurricane evacuees.
And, by the way, some of the finest college football games were played there, including 11 that decided national championships.
On Saturday night, the Hurricanes will play there for the 468th time.
The final time.
"I guess the old girl had to be retired at some point, since we couldn't get enough money to get her built up the right way," said Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp, a 1994 All-American at Miami. "She goes out the greatest stadium in America, in my mind."
At the beginning, she was.
Billed at its opening as "the largest and most modern steel stadium in the nation," the Orange Bowl -- or Roddy Burdine Stadium, as it was originally known, a nod to the department store magnate who got it built -- was beyond compare.
"A beautiful structure without peer in beauty and adaptability," wrote Jack Bell in the Miami Daily News on Dec. 10, 1937, the night the place was dedicated.
The Orange Bowl's best days were decades ago. More than a few seats are falling apart. The scoreboard is as modern as bellbottoms. It's not uncommon to see something fall off the structure during games. Some visitors make the sign of the cross as they enter the elevators. There's drips from the ceilings, rust on all corners, puddles in the concourses and evidence of decay almost everywhere.