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Dolphins will require fewer seats sold to lift TV blackout

The Dolphins today are announcing they will take advantage of the league's option of counting fewer seats sold in order to lift the weekly television blackout -- meaning the club now has to sell 51,128 tickets 72 hours before kickoff rather than the 60,500 it previously had to sell for the game to be on TV.

The NFL allows teams to discount up to 15 percent of its stadiium capacity in determining a sellout. The "manifested" capacity for Sun Life will be 65,000 including club seat and suites. The club seats and suites are not figured when determining a TV blackout or the lifting of that blackout.

While the team can continue to sell all of its 75,000 tickets to fill Sun Life, only 65,000 will count as the manifested capacity.

"This provides us the best opportunity to keep games on television," Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said.

Last year the Dolphins had to purchase their own tickets to at least five of their eight home games to insure a home sellout. The idea of needing to sell fewer tickets to lift the TV blackout is a way of serving local fans who demand the games be on TV while at the same time saving the club the expense of buying so many or any tickets to make that happen.

There is a trade-off. While the club can still sell all 75,000 seats, the NFL will collect a bigger chunk of the windfall from the sale of seats above those manifested.

The move suggests the Dolphins envision trouble selling seats again this year in coach Joe Philbin's first year. But Dee points out the team is actually ahead of last year's season-ticket sales pace of 42,584.

"We could easily beat last year's number," he said. "We have sold 8,000 new season tickects this year so far so we have a chance to lead the league in new season ticket customers if not be in the top three."

That does not necessarily mean the Dolphins will eclipse 50,000 season tickets sold because there are obviously season ticket customers from previous years that did not renew for 2012.

Dee was asked if the Dolphins feel their stadium is currently too large for their local fan base, fan interest and the relative success of the team. He declined to say but did point out that Sun Life has 35,000 seats in the 400 level while most stadium around the NFL average between 22,000-25,000, he said.