ORLANDO -- Dolphins season ticket sales have made a dramatic jump this offseason over last year with renewals up 12 percent from a year ago at this time and new season ticket sales up approximately as much -- about 12 percent -- from a season ago, according to the team.
This is a good sign for the team that last year did not get the big ticket sales bump it hoped for after an aggressive free agency period and draft that included a trade-up to the No. 3 overall pick. This year, in the wake of season in which the team failed to make the playoffs for the 11th time in a dozen years, fans are reacting quite favorably to the team's pitch to buy tickets.
"We're pacing 12 percent above this time last year," Dolphins president and CEO Tom Garfinkel said Monday. "We actually started renewals three months later than we did last year because of our new membership program and how we're doing it. So we started three months later and in spite of that we're 12 percent higher than we were at this time last year."
The Dolphins were dealt a public relations blow during the 2013 season when the NFL harassment scandal hit the headlines. But so far the scandale hasn't adversely affected sales -- suggesting it may not at all.
Indeed, on Feb. 15, one day after the Wells Report detailing the troubles among some players in the Dolphins locker room was released, the Dolphins had a ticket sales event at the stadium.
And it was a grand success.
"We had record new sales in one day," Garfinkel said. "We sold over 1,500 new season tickets for a lot of dollars in one day because of the event we had."
Garfinkel says the Dolphins are doing business a different way in order to sell their product. Rather than sales over the phone, the team is inviting fans to come to Sun Life Stadium and experience the atmosphere of what a game day can be like.
And there are other changes ...
""We've tripled our service staff," Garfinkel said. "We've created dedicated service. We've changed the service model quite a bit.
"We're communicating with fans as much as we can. We've added dedicated service reps. We've added benefits. We've added a lot of things. So we're on top of that part of it -- touching our fans, talking to them, communicating with them, getting in front of them. That helps. There's a lot of things we changed and that helps. So far it's pacing well. We still have a long way to go."
In recent years, South Florida had turned away from the Dolphins and found other ways to spend discretionary income -- perhaps with the Heat or some other way. Season ticket sales dropped in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
But Garfinkel believes Dolphins fans are responding positively again.
"I'd say we're very fortunate to have a fan base that has a deep connection to the team," he said. "That's something I continue to be blown away by when I talk to fans."