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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Also known as the North Miami Athletic Field, the “Mosquito Bowl In The Hole” lives up to its name. Nestled in the middle of a mangrove swamp along the coast of North Miami, this stadium is home to a native swarm of mosquitoes. It is also feet away from FIU’s Biscayne Bay campus. However, proximity to the water doesn’t make it for an enjoyable sports experience.
The field is home to the Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High Sharks football team. On Friday nights in the fall, you can see gridiron action amongst the insects in North Miami.
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There is only one concession stand at this field, and it isn't exactly glorious. The hole in the wall where you get your food and snacks is small. The line usually gets jumped by students at the games. And there is nothing covering you from both the searing heat in the day or the rain of an afternoon storm. Prices are cheap, as it is only a high school game (a buck or two for water or Gatorade and about $4-$5 for a burger.
High school football can be exciting in and of itself. However, sitting in the blistering sun next to a swamp that can smell funny at times is not exactly the most enjoyable experience. Of course, that is if you survive the blood loss from the mosquitoes if they're bad. However, the view from the stands is pretty nice. You can see the waters of Biscayne Bay as well as some nicely painted high rise buildings nearby. Ironically, there is usually a nice breeze since the stadium is next to the water on most days, but it still is pretty hot regardless.
The stadium isn't in much of a neighborhood, unless you count mangrove swamps. Across the parking lot is Mourning High School, and a minute drive down the entrance road is FIU's Biscayne Bay campus. Places to stay are varied and available just a short drive north in Aventura. You can also find one of Miami's best malls there. The beach is a short drive as well. If you're looking for somewhere to eat, a wide variety can be found in and around the Aventura Mall area, and all up and down the main roads outside the stadium.
The fans pack in the North Miami stadium depending upon who is playing. If it ends up being a Hillel vs. Mourning matchup, you likely won't have much of an issue finding somewhere to sit. If it is a Miami Central vs. Miami Beach matchup, you will have a more difficult time finding a seat unless you arrive early. The fans can be a little blue if the ref's calls don't go the way they think they should go, but they are generally not too bad. Being high school football in Miami, however, certain matchups can lead to fights among students, so be careful when you are out and about in the parking lot after the game.
Getting to the stadium isn't terribly difficult, but it takes a bit of driving and searching if you don't have a GPS. One first has to take I-95 to Aventura and then drive south. Your best bet is to follow the signs to FIU Biscayne Bay Campus once you're on US1 heading south. That way, you know where to turn as there aren't any signs for the stadium itself immediately visible. Parking is free and there is usually enough parking for most games.
Unless you have a specific reason to go to a football game at this stadium, there isn't really anything that is special about this stadium experience. It's nice view of the water in the distance isn't as clear as one would want to draw them into a game there, and it is lost at night time. The game itself would have to be what brings you to the field, and the only reason your ROI is worth the few dollars cost of entry.
The only bonus one gets when coming to this high school football field is its proximity to the swamp. While the mangroves behind the field may serve as a big reason as to why the facility has the nickname "The Mosquito Bowl in the Hole," it also hosts a multitude of wildlife. Birds of all kinds can be seen just by looking behind you when sitting in the stands. It isn't much of a draw, but it is something that not many other stadiums have.
Ronald L. Book Stadium doesn't have much to set it aside from most any other high school football stadium. However, if your favorite team does happen to play at this field, make sure you bring plenty of mosquito repellant as well as something to drink, as waiting in line for concessions can drive you insane.
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