New Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and coach Tony Sparano have a vested interest in packing the house at Land Shark Stadium Monday night. And it seems as if that will happen.
Although the game is not a sellout as of this writing, the Dolphins are privately confident it will sell out in time for kickoff against the Indianapolis Colts. The team is even banking on the game beating the NFL-enforced 72-hour local TV blackout deadline, meaning the game would be televised in South Florida.
The team is not discussing how many tickets must be sold between now and 8:30 Friday evening for the blackout to be lifted or how many dockets must be sold by kickoff for the stadium to be packed. But the number is under 1,800 1,500 according to a TicketMaster source.
So if you plan to attend, call the Dolphins ticket office or get to clicking on the TicketMaster site soon.
All this is good news for the team's bottom line because all indications have been that season ticket sales have hovered sluggishly in the 49,000 range for a stadium that seats 75,540 including club seats and executive suites. Executive suites sales are not included in the 49,000 figure nor do they figure toward sellout deadlines.
A sellout, by the NFL's definition, means all non-premium seats are sold.
The expected sellout is also good news for the team's football operations. Sparano wants the Dolphins home-opener sold out because it gives his team an actual home-field advantage.
“I think it will be exciting. I know Mr. Ross has put an awful lot into this evening coming up Monday night," the coach said. "I think our fans will be really excited about it. I hope the place is packed and I hope they’re really loud. We need it to be really loud this weekend. So, I’m looking’ forward to it, can’t wait to get back at it.”
Ross, who has invested much financial and goodwill capital in purchasing the Dolphins and then marketing them differently than previous owner Wayne Huizenga, obviously is hoping for something of a celebration -- not just on opening night but every game.
"I want each game to be an event," Ross told the Miami Herald last month. "We're doing the things we're doing to win first, but also to make Dolphins games the place to be."
Dolphins fans on South Florida's radio waves and in Internet interactive sites have been lukewarm to the idea of turning Dolphins games into events where celebrities come to be seen and orange carpets define VIPs.
But the fans whose voices count most -- the ticket buyers -- obviously have not been deterred by the ownership change nor the changes they've heard Ross will bring to the fan experience. One might say the reaction is even positive to this point.
That is apparent in that this game is headed for a sellout.
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