Miami Dolphins

At renovated Miami Dolphins stadium, VIP treatment for elite fans, new seats for friends

A rendering of what Sun Life Stadium would look like once upgrades are completed for the fall of 2016.
A rendering of what Sun Life Stadium would look like once upgrades are completed for the fall of 2016. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins know all too well how tough it can be to get South Floridians out to games.

That’s why, once the $400 million renovations to Sun Life Stadium are complete, they will come to you. At least some of you.

As part of an ultra-luxury game experience, the organization will send black cars to fetch their elite customers, with a private entrance and exit to skip traffic.

Once there, big spenders will have access to a swanky, all-inclusive club at the 50-yard line, with field access during the game.

The disclaimer: These packages will be quite expensive — and even more scarce.

But they’re just one of many ways the team plans to flatten obstacles between their fans and their games in the coming years.

Here’s another: Season-ticket holders will now be able to sit with their friends regardless of where their tickets were in the stadium’s previous incarnation.

The total seating-bowl overhaul, currently under way, presents what team CEO Tom Garfinkel calls “a once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to reset the stadium.

That seat you’ve held since the 1980s? It no longer will exist. Section numbers and seats will completely change this fall. But the team will reward those decades of loyalty.

The longer you have been a season-ticket holder, the higher on the list you will be when it comes to picking out your new seat.

But what if you have had tickets for the past 20 years but want to be grouped with a friend who has had them for only 10? The Dolphins will average the two tenures together and allow all of you to pick your seats together.

“If you have five families that go to church together and play Little League together and go to school together and barbecue together, well, we want to put you together in the same seats,” Garfinkel said. “One of the challenges is you go out in the tailgate lot and everybody hangs out until the second quarter because they don’t want to leave their friends. They all separate and say, ‘See you after the game.’ And then you sit next to the people you don’t know.”

That can now change.

The stadium, which will have a new, corporately sponsored name for the start of the 2016 season, will also feature clubs in the corners of the 200 level.

That will provide another way for people to meet up and yet still be inside the building while the game is in progress.

All these advancements, along with the decreased supply (the Dolphins are cutting capacity by some 10,000 seats), have some concerned about just how expensive it will be in the new stadium.

Garfinkel said the organization will release ticket prices in the coming weeks, but pledged that “we’re still going to have thousands of seats under $50.”

An important distinction from other new stadiums like the one built for the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, California, the Dolphins will not require season-ticket buyers to also shell out for a personal seat license, which can run tens of thousands of dollars.

As for those tens of thousands of old seats that are being ripped out? Season-ticket holders and general fans alike will have a chance to buy one.

The team will make 3,000 available for auction, with the proceeds benefiting the Miami Dolphins Foundation. The organization also plans to gift a seatback to every season-ticket holder who renews this year.

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