Sunday afternoon was hot. There were moans from many fans as they walked out of the cold air interior to the bright lit open air stadium. Sweat immediately poured off my brow down my face. Then the realization occurred to me that for the next three and half quarters the sun would not give me a reprieve by ducking behind the upper level seating overhang above me. No, it was setting in the other direction. In other words, I was screwed.
As the game progressed from the first to the second quarter my seven year old son couldn’t take it anymore so we walked inside for a quick reprieve from the baking sun to get him cooled down and re-hydrated. That’s when I realized the bigger problem with the empty seats in the stands. The stadium wasn’t as empty as it seemed. Everyone was inside.
The interior halls of the Club Level were quite full. So much so that I couldn’t find a place to sit my kid for a few minutes. People stood in line at the concession stand. Drank beer at full tables of patrons, an ice bar was full from one end to the other and musicians played varying degrees of music on each side of the stadium. The halls bustled with foot traffic. All watching the game on HD televisions around the stadium.
I realized that the Miami Dolphins have done such a great job to cater to the fans that they have actually taken the fans out of the stadium seats and put them in high-class living rooms. I mean, good for them in terms of business. Get the fan off the couch at home and into the stadium couches instead but that leaves huge voids around the stadium where the players actually can hear the fans cheer. They can’t hear you from inside.
My son grabbed some ice cream and told me that he would eat it outside where he could see the game. A lady and her male companion offered up a two person table to us and my son promptly said, “No thanks, I can watch TV at home”. I didn’t wait around to see their reaction but I can tell you mine.
The Dolphins need to find a way to get those fans back to their seats and I don’t believe that winning is simply “THE” answer. Fans are growing more accustomed to sitting in the heat and tailgating and then bringing that party inside to watch the game in the comfort of air conditioning and endless alcohol. If the game gets close, they can hurry back to their seats so they can say, “yeah, I saw it live”.
Maybe the simplest answer is the one that might work the best. Sell tickets to the tables in the sitting area. No outside seating, just seats to experience the game at the stadium in the comfort of other Dolphins fans. This would fill those areas of the stadium and force the rest of the seating ticket holders back into the stadium where they belong. Cheering where the team can actually hear them.