Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Dolphin Stadium 100 Daniel St Gulf Breeze, FL 32561
Year Opened: 1971
Welcome to the Splash Zone
Just over the Three Mile Bridge from Downtown Pensacola lies the sleepy town of Gulf Breeze, Florida. Founded in 1961, the affluent bedroom community of 5,000 residents remains one of the wealthiest towns in the State of Florida.
Built in 1971, Gulf Breeze High School remains the only high school in the city and has an enrollment 1,800 students. Notable alumni include former Seahawks All-Pro receiver Doug Baldwin, former Bears Fullback Jason McKie, former Phillies and Royals pitcher Ben Lively, MLS player Keith Savage, and actress Abigail Spencer.
Nicknamed the Dolphins, the team plays at 4,800-seat Dolphin Stadium, which is located across the street from the high school. The stadium opened when the school opened, and since that time the Dolphins have only made 10 playoff appearances and have yet to win a playoff game as of 2020. The Dolphins currently compete in Class 6A District 1 which includes 7 other high schools in the Pensacola metro area.
Food & Beverage 4
Unlike most high school football games, Gulf Breeze High School has an expansive concessions menu. The Blue Dot Café is the main concessions stand, located in the south end zone, and serves the basics with reasonable prices, including stuffed bacon cheeseburgers ($4.50), cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches ($4), hamburgers ($3.50), chili dogs and boiled peanuts ($3), and hot dogs, fries, and nachos ($2.50).
There is another stand located in the south end zone called Greek’s Catering. This makeshift stand serves a more expansive list of items that would normally not be found at a high school football game – foot-long corn dogs, chicken kabobs, chicken pitas, gourmet burgers, gyros, Polish dogs, loaded fries and nachos, buffalo chicken sandwiches, and Greek salad round out the menu. The prices vary between $6 and $9, but I thought it was a nice added touch that they bring all these impressive concessions in just for a high school football game.
There is also a Kona Ice food truck located at the stadium. All in all you should be able to find plenty to eat at Dolphin Stadium, so come to the game hungry.
Dolphin Stadium is a nice stadium with a set up similar to other high schools in the area. The field faces north and south and the stadium is part of the high school sports complex, which includes the three practice fields behind the west grandstand, and the baseball and softball fields behind the north end zone. In 2015 the whole complex received a face lift, so all the buildings would match and be pleasing in color; as such all the school’s athletic buildings have brick exteriors, and there’s no denying you are close to the beach. Plus, the whole area is lined with palm trees, and the Dolphins team colors of blue and yellow are scattered throughout.
The visiting side is a concrete grandstand with about 20 rows of seating. There are no metal bleachers on this side so you sit on the concrete steps, and you can also not walk under the grandstand on this side – you enter by walking in front of the grandstand and then walk up to your seat. The home side features a concrete grandstand with about 20 rows of bleachers as well, but there is metal bleacher seating on this side, except for the seating on the 50-yard line which includes about 200 blue chairback seats for season ticket holders. You are allowed to walk under the stadium on the home side as the restrooms and one locker room are located under the stadium there.
The south end zone features the numerous concessions stands and a small table set up selling t-shirts and other Dolphin team gear. Beyond the south end zone fences lies the team’s fieldhouse; the $1.5 million building opened in 2010 and includes the team’s locker rooms and weight rooms. Located across the street lies the beautiful St. Ann Catholic Church – the church’s steeple can be seen from the stands and provides a nice backdrop when watching the game from the home side.
The City of Gulf Breeze is located on a peninsula, with two bridges that separate it from Pensacola to the north and Pensacola Beach to the south. The actual city is mostly residential; many of the residents work in Pensacola so there is not a lot in terms of industry. Because of this Gulf Breeze has a kind of small town feel where everybody knows everybody. The stadium sits across the street from the high school in a residential neighborhood, but across the street to the southeast lies a parking lot that includes a Publix, Marble Slab Creamery, Panera Bread, and Rotolo’s Pizzeria, while a Walmart and Chick-fil-A are located across the street to the north.
Don’t let the small town fool you though – there are plenty of attractions in Gulf Breeze. About 15 minutes away lies the Gulf Breeze Zoo; the 50-acre zoo has over 900 animals and is the largest zoo of its kind in northwest Florida. Also nearby is Gulf Islands National Seashore, a protected 1,300-acre forest includes numerous bike trails, piers, beach access, and an interactive learning center. Andrew Jackson Road, the first road in the state of Florida, runs right through the forest as well and includes an access point to the Bluffs, a hidden spot known only by locals.
The Bluffs includes stunning views of Pensacola Bay, and if you’re brave enough, a rope swing with about a 60-foot drop to the water below. Another popular spot is to walk or bike the Three Mile Bridge, which connects the city with downtown Pensacola. The bridge just opened and includes a well-lit path for walking or biking along the bridge. And if you happen to have a kayak or boat you can head out to Deadman’s Island about 100 yard offshore from the bridge; the popular private island has a beautiful artificial reef created around the site of an old shipwreck believed to be from the 1600s. Also on the south side of the peninsula lies Shoreline Park, a perfect spot to fish or launch a boat. The park also includes a gazebo, beach volleyball court, boat ramp, several different walking trails, and a pier with nice views of the Pensacola Beach skyline.
One could spend forever in the area and still have plenty of new things to do. Pensacola Beach is located just across the bay from the south on Santa Rosa Island. Pensacola Beach includes numerous high-rise condos found on the Gulf Coast, but is not as big in terms of area as other beach towns like Destin and Orange Beach. Popular attractions in Pensacola Beach besides the beach include the Casino Beach Pier area, Quietwater Beach Boardwalk, and Fort Pickens, which is an old Civil War fort. In addition, there’s countless bars and restaurants located on the island as well.
Because of its small town feel Gulf Breeze has a very loyal and dedicated fan base. Many of the residents of Gulf Breeze grew up here and attended high school here, so you’ll find tons of alumni who still support the Dolphins. Because the stadium is located in a residential neighborhood, I actually saw people with tents in the front yard tailgating.
There is a very vocal student section as well located right next to the band, in the section known as the Splash Pad. The Dolphins’ main rival is nearby Navarre High School, so when those two teams play each other expect a packed house on both sides of the stadium. The Dolphins compete in FHSAA 6A District 1, which includes seven Pensacola area high schools, so expect a good number of fans on both sides as the schools are located close enough.
Gulf Breeze High School is located on the far west end of Fairpoint Peninsula, just off the main highway through Gulf Breeze Highway 98. The school is conveniently located about ten minutes south of Downtown Pensacola just over the bridge that separates the two cities. The elementary, middle, and high schools are all located on one side of the highway, while the athletic facilities are located across the street. A pretty nice and scenic covered walkway over Highway 98 separates the school from the stadium. There is some parking across the street at the high school but is $5, so I found plenty of free parking in the church parking lot just across the street from the stadium.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for the most recent game were $7, and for the 2020 season tickets could only be purchased through the FanDuel app. I consider this a good return on investment – while Gulf Breeze does not traditionally put out a lot of D1 talent, the small beach feel and charming fans make this a great place to watch a high school football game.
One extra for the Andrews Institute. who are the team physicians for Gulf Breeze High School Athletics; the famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews is known as one of the top doctors in the country when it comes to working on sports injuries, and he has performed surgeries on top athletes such as Drew Brees, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, John Smoltz, and Bo Jackson. The Andrews Institute is based in Gulf Breeze, and Dr. Andrews splits his time between here and Birmingham. When in town Dr. Andrews can sometimes be spotted at Gulf Breeze football games as well.
Another extra for the close proximity of the stadium to Pensacola Beach. The beach sits on Santa Rosa Island, and one could go from the beach to the stadium and be there in about 10 minutes. Pensacola Beach has numerous public beach access points for you to choose from, and because of the warm climate it’s not uncommon for people to go swimming well into October, so if you’re lucky you can even go swimming before the game. To get to the island just go east on Highway 98 about a half mile and look to the right for the famous, lit up, 50s-era Pensacola Beach sign, and follow that road over the bridge to get to the island. Only about 2,000 residents live on the island, but Gulf Breeze High School does serve this community as well.