Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why don't fans come out to Dolphins games?

I've heard it aksed before, and saw JeremyandJessica posted that question in response to a previous post.

I have lived in South Florida pretty much my whole life, and I've studied this question, and thought I'd take a swipe at responding.

There are a couple of key factors here, and they have carried on for many years - heck, the 72 Dolphins didn't sell out most games!  And Marino's team regularly played in front of a not-so-packed house.

Issue #1: Affordability.  Florida has been, and still is, a tourist driven economy.  Many people work in a related industry, where the wages are good, but the economics of having a lot of disposable income make it challenging to attend a lot of games.  A family of four would be paying north of $250 to go and spend the day and have a meal at the stadium.

If you're making $50k a year, the takehome is around $1000 a week.  Deciding to spend 25% of a weeks paycheck on a single game is a tough call.

Issue #2: South Florida is a melting pot.  There are many people from all over the globe, and a fair number don't give a wit about american football.  Those that are from another US city are generally long-time fans of the team from "home" and aren't interested in the local product.  So, they will go to a game featuring their team - wearing their team's jersey.  And otherwise, don't come to games.

Issue #3: there's a ton to do in South Florida, from the beach to plentiful activities.  And many of them are low cost (or free).  So people can spend money and sit in a stadium (and sweat) OR they can hang out somewhere else in the heat and come and go at their leisure.

Issue #4: the advent of HD.  This is a bigger issue than simply in Miami, but its still a factor.  People can watch the game at home and invite friends over and still have the tailgate experience if they like (and often can plus that experience).  And the view on TV is better than from the cheap seats.

And finally, Issue #5: there are a lot of people in Miami who attend events to be seen, or because they are essentially "front running phonies" who only go when the team is good.  So if there's a primetime big game, there are more people who show up.  But they won't show up on a Sunday at 1pm.

And there you go.  Different owners, different CEOs, some market researchers, lots of attempts to draw fans in.  And these factors stay constant.

I have a hunch that for the most part Mr. Ross is well aware of the issues, and that's why he agrees to buy out the unsold tickets.  At least the product stays on people's minds...otherwise he might lose whatever fans still remain with this team.

I can tell you that at one point, we had a tailgating group of about 12.  And I knew at least three other groups of equal size.  All of us just quit at some point for our own reasons.  That's 36 or so people who gave up season tickets.  Add to that the 20 or so people I know who used to go regularly to games (or at least follow them closely). 

If I represent some number of people,. then they're losing ticket sales. And I have no idea how they will make them up.
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9 comments

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Plus you forgot the part about the Dolphins have a long & well-deserved reputation for not winning that much.

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Yeah, good call. The apathy thing.

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#4 has the made the largest impact. At the same time, I feel that answer is for the entire league. I think in SW FL your 5 points have equal value. Would be hard to say 1 is greater than the other. True for any team is lack of winning. Economy can be a lifesaver for a franchise, or a possible move to another home. Your points about seasons and lack of sell-outs also. SW FL did not truly become so populated until the invention of air conditioning. I have always wondered(wondered!!) what a dome stadium would do for the dolphins?

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Another issue is we have a big stadium. 20,000 seats more than others around the league.

But all your points are well thought out Dave.
I always leaned towards number 3.

Hopefully I will see you Saturday night at Bokampers. Gonna be a lot of fans down from NYC.

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The Dolphins as of the start of the 2014 season have the highest winning percentage in NFL history at .567%
If you add pre-NFL ie the AFL they are 3rd, and that factoring in our 1-15 season.
You obviously have no knowledge of football what so ever......

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The Dolphins as of the start of the 2014 season have the highest winning percentage in NFL history at .567%
If you add pre-NFL ie the AFL they are 3rd, and that factoring in our 1-15 season.
You obviously have no knowledge of football what so ever......

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@drewsocean - the Dolphins *used to* have the all time mark for win percentage, but in 2012 team, they lost the crown to the Steelers due to poor play for years.

Now its
Pittsburgh: .607
Miami: .590
Cowboys: .589

And that means the Cowboys are also nipping at their heels

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I'm hoping the stadium upgrades help a little. What does Ross do with the tickets he buys? And why not just drop the damn prices? Wouldn't that be better than buying them all himself? Experiment a little. Drop prices until you find the sweet spot where games sell out. The phins need the fans there. They need more of a home field advantage.

A lot of these reasons could be listed about teams in Cali and NY. Or any major city really. Lots to do, melting pot, expensive tickets, etc. But they still have better attendance than Miami.

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David, your math is off. As a Certified Public Accountant, I can say with confidence. It is even worse than you say. $50,000 per year only net's $817 per week take home (on average -after taxes). A family would have to be the best pincher of pennies to even attend 1 game per year. Somehow I don't believe all that many people make that much even. $43,500 is closer - or about $720 a week.

Miami-Dade County, FL Income and Salaries. The income per capita is $23,304, which includes all adults and children. The median household income is $43,464.
Economy in Miami-Dade County, Florida - Best Places
www.bestplaces.net/economy/county/florida/miami-dade