SBD/Issue 244/Franchises

Dolphins Owner Ross Continues To Stress Fan Experience

Ross Says Dolphins Looking To
Create A Better Fan Experience
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross said the reason the team is "looking to create a better fan experience is to have more fans," according to Hal Habib of the PALM BEACH POST. Ross: "I don't think a team, any team, wants to play before a half-empty stadium or a stadium that's not excited and doesn't anticipate winning." Ross said the Miami area is "about entertainment, celebrity and lifestyle and that's what we're putting together." Ross: "How can the fans say, 'Hey, you're going to buy a team and not do anything?' I mean, you've got to wake up people. There's got to be a wake-up call. You've got to create excitement." Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said, "We ran an online survey last year and roughly two-thirds of our self-described hardcore fans became hardcore fans prior to 1987. The good news about that is we have a lot of long-term, hardcore fans. ... But the other news is the franchise hasn't picked up a lot of those new hardcore fans." However, Dee noted the team's "concentration is on winning" this year, adding "all this other stuff is on the margin." Ross said, "We understand the line between football and the fan experience." He added if there is "anything that's even questionable in terms of distracting the players, I check with" Dolphins Exec VP/Football Operations Bill Parcells. Ross: "Bill Parcells loves the idea of making sure those stands are filled up." Ross noted the Dolphins are working with team investors Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Marc Anthony on concerts at Land Shark Stadium, but he said, "That wasn't part of any obligation they have, to perform or sing" (PALM BEACH POST, 9/5).

FANNING THE FLAMES: Washington Univ. professor and author Michael MacCambridge said of the Dolphins' emphasis on fan experience, "I get the impression that it's perhaps the right thing for this team in this city. ... The idea that this is Showtime Southeast -- from T-Pain to Serena [Williams] to Jimmy Buffett to Gloria Estefan -- none of those things are bad things in today's celebrity-driven culture." MacCambridge said that last year's AFC East title "makes it less likely the celebs will be perceived as a substitute for winning." Meanwhile, the PALM BEACH POST's Habib wrote Ross has "little use for the most misleading statistic surrounding the franchise -- that it has sold out every regular-season home game since 1998." It is "no secret many sellouts were induced by TV stations buying thousands of tickets to avoid a blackout" (PALM BEACH POST, 9/6).

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