Teams in Florida have trouble selling seats. That’s a fact. There’s a laundry list of possible reasons for the phenomena, but the fact remains that the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Miami Dolphins play with a lot of empty seats on Sundays.
The Dolphins may be looking to change that.
According to Armando Salguero the Miami Herald, the Dolphins may be interested in removing or covering up some of their 35,000 upper deck seats. Sun Life Stadium has more upper deck seats than any other team in the NFL, and that’s a big problem for the team.
Florida teams aren’t alone in their battle to sell tickets. The Bills, Raiders, Chargers, Bengals, and others have struggled in recent years to sell tickets. Many of the teams struggling to sell out their stadiums reside in southern, coastal cities.
As an aside, teams do not have to sell out the entire stadium to avoid a blackout. For example, the Jaguars didn’t have any blackouts last season, but they also didn’t sell out their stadium in any of those games. To avoid a blackout, a team must sell out the general bowl only.
Getting back on track, there seems little doubt that the abundance of alternative recreation options is partially to blame for lackluster ticket sales, but there’s a far larger culprit out there. That villain, of course, is television.
Going to an NFL game is a very large financial commitment, especially when you consider that you can still see the game with a better view from your own home for free. TV contracts have been very lucrative for the NFL, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but they’ve also chipped away at stadium attendance.
The fact of the matter is that there will always be fans that would rather go to the games in person than watch them on TV, but rising ticket costs have limited the number of fans that can actually afford that luxury. There seems to be one very obvious solution to the problem. Smaller stadiums.
There’s now an obsession with building bigger stadiums, but once that team goes through a bad stretch of play, many of those seats don’t sell. The television market has made it possible for more people than ever to see NFL games live, and the NFL needs to adapt. They have to realize that many, if not most, people can’t afford to go to the games. Some teams can and will always be able to support huge stadiums (New York Giants, Jets, and the Dallas Cowboys), but that’s not true in all markets. Winning is the only way for a team to ensure that their stadium is full on Sunday. The Dolphins may be the latest team to artificially shrink their stadium, but they won’t be the last.