Celebrities converge on Miami for Dolphins' home opener

MIAMI -- When Mark Duper arrived for the Miami Dolphins' home opener, fans flanking either side of the new VIP orange-carpet entrance hardly gave the former Pro Bowl receiver a second glance.

Right behind him was Serena Williams, who drew a cluster of frantic photographers and a big roar from the crowd.

NFL celebrity came with a new twist Monday night, and the arrival of the Dolphins' new limited partners caused a lot of fuss even before the Dolphins kicked off against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.

On hand were Williams and sister Venus, Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Marc Anthony -- all new part owners -- as well as Jimmy Buffett and T-Pain, who have contributed new songs to the Dolphins.

Not all of the VIPs rooted for the home team. When the Colts scored on an 80-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage, Tiger Woods was on their sideline to join in the celebration.

Buffett performed a brief concert for tailgaters. Other celebs made grand entrances along a 100-yard rope line, flanked on either by fans standing five deep. More spectators took in the scene from the railing at the top of the stadium, and dozens of police and security kept order.

Creating perhaps the biggest buzz was Anthony's wife, Jennifer Lopez, who enlivened the teams' warmup with an appearance on the sideline. Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves also drew a cluster of photographers.

The glitz was part of a bid by new Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to make games more glamorous and exciting. The game was the first in Miami since Ross completed his purchase of the franchise in January.

Awaiting the arrival of his celebrity guests, Ross confessed to butterflies.

"We've put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the season, and we're showcasing it tonight for the first time, so you have butterflies," Ross said a few hours before kickoff. "We've tried a lot of new things. Certainly we're going to make mistakes. We're watching to see what works, what doesn't work."

Innovations under Ross include hand-held wireless TV units for premium seat holders, a new private stadium club and an a cappella group formed to sing the national anthem.

But the celebrities have received the most attention -- and did again Monday.

"It's an exciting night," Ross said. "We have just a great bunch of partners who have a great feeling and compassion for South Florida and the Miami Dolphins.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

Tiger Woods

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