The Dolphins are on the verge of a true sellout for their season opener, and are expecting crowds that top 70,000 for at least the first three home games.
That’s according to Tom Garfinkel, the team’s CEO whose staff is all but certain to increase the team’s overall home attendance for the second consecutive season.
Season-ticket sales figures are up, too. After selling a shade under 42,000 year-long passes in 2013, they’re now close to 45,000 for 2014. One possible explanation: the Dolphins now market season-ticket ownership as membership to a club, inviting those members to private events throughout the year.
Overall, the Dolphins averaged just under 65,000 for their eight home games in 2013; Garfinkel expects every Dolphins game at Sun Life Stadium this fall will have a paid attendance of at least 65,000. He had already pledged that no Dolphins home game will be blacked out locally in 2014.
As for Sunday’s opener against the Patriots, over 72,000 tickets have been sold. The team is releasing a few hundred lower-level tickets they had held back; those interested in purchasing one are encouraged to visit Dolphins.com.
FINS PICK UP EX-PATS PLAYER
Subterfuge works both ways.
After watching the Patriots scoop up two of their recent castoffs, the Dolphins picked up a mole of their own Thursday. They claimed defensive tackle Bruce Gaston, waived Wednesday by New England. To make room for Gaston, the Dolphins cut safety Brandian Ross – whose stay in Miami lasted all of five days.
Gaston, who played collegiately at Purdue, becomes the 13th rookie on the Dolphins' roster.
Gaston might be the newest addition to the Dolphins’ locker room, but he’s not the most unique. It’s hard to top the battle shield resting in the middle of the dressing room for that honor.
The prop is the brainchild of the coaching staff. It looks like something out of the movie 300, and that might be the point. Not coincidentally, there’s also a shield on the new team T-shirt, with the words “One team, One fight, Win the day,” and “Sound, Smart, Tough.”
They were printed for the players who made the team’s 53-man roster.
“We kind of wanted to make it a special occasion for them and so the shield is kind of the symbol of everybody together, one team,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said.
WHEELER HOPES TO PLAY
The hard cast remains on Philip Wheeler’s right arm, and presumably will do so through Sunday’s game. The Dolphins linebacker said he’s “day-to-day,” when asked if he will play against the Patriots. Wheeler was again limited in his participation in Thursday’s practice with a thumb injury.
So how exactly will he tackle with one hand, if sent on the field?
“I guess you have to wrap up and you’ve got to just make sure you don’t leave your feet,” Wheeler said. “It’s a little harder, but you can do it. It’s possible.”
The bright side: no holding calls, right?
“At least with my right hand,” Wheeler joked.
THIS AND THAT• Patriots quarterback Tom Brady missed practice Thursday with a calf injury.
• The Dolphins added linebacker Chris McCain to their injury report Thursday. He was limited with a hip injury.
• Better news for TE Charles Clay (knee), DE Derrick Shelby (illness) and K Caleb Sturgis (groin). All participated fully Thursday after limitations the day before.