Miami Dolphins

Season-ticket renewals strong for Miami Dolphins in renovated stadium

Here’s a view of Dolphins Stadium under construction from late February.
Here’s a view of Dolphins Stadium under construction from late February. EL NUEVO HERALD

Miami Dolphins fans hoping to snag a seat in the team’s modernized stadium ought not procrastinate.

Roughly 90 percent of the lower bowl seats have been sold. All club-level season tickets have, too. The luxury packages — including the team’s swanky living room experience and pricy ’72 Club — are basically gone.

And the Dolphins’ sales staff is still working through a waiting list of some 4,500 season-ticket seekers who have put down a deposit.

So while some lifetime fans griped about changes to their seat location and price changes in the new stadium, the vast majority ultimately re-upped with the team. The Dolphins’ season-ticket renewal rate this year is historically high — even better than the 80 percent retention rate in 2014, the team said.

“If you’re going to jump on board, this is the time,” said Dolphins Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Walls. “Fans are responding really well.”

The warning comes two weeks before the team releases single-game tickets to the public. Pre-sale begins May 12, and then is opened up to the general public two days later.

One of the oldest tricks in sales is to manufacture a sense of urgency, but in the Dolphins’ case, this appears to be a matter of simple math. Last year, the team sold more than 70,000 tickets to each of its eight home games, and Walls said the team is ahead of last year’s sales pace.

Plus the supply is shrinking. The Dolphins are reducing capacity to 65,000 as part of Sun Life Stadium’s $400 million renovation project, which remains on schedule.

All of the old seats have been removed and roughly a third of the new ones have gone in. Construction on the new concession areas should begin in the next two weeks.

The team is also in the process of replacing the sidelines, moving fans 25 feet closer to the field. And while work on Phase 1 of the two-year project might not be completely finished by the Dolphins’ first preseason game Aug. 29, the fan experience should not be affected.

Before the modernization project, the Dolphins played in one of the largest stadiums in football, and during the leanest years, would struggle to fill much of the upper level. But that has changed. Attendance was up roughly 10 percent in 2014, and the team went from 29th to 14th among the 32 NFL teams in a span of two years.

The jump was due in large part to aggressive group sales. The Dolphins sold around 140,000 such tickets in 2014. Roughly 1,000 groups have approached the team about buying tickets in bulk this year, and some might end up disappointed. The inventory probably won’t be there to service them all.

Walls credits the high demand to excitement over improvements to both the stadium and the football team, plus an innovative membership program that provides season-ticket holders access to exclusive events throughout the year.

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