SBD/July 21, 2014/Franchises

Dolphins Aim To Regain Top Billing In South Florida Left Vacant By LeBron James' Departure

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Dolphins home games were among the worst attended in the NFL last season
The Dolphins, "spurred by a new business plan and the promise of a remade stadium," are beginning to reclaim the ground they have lost in South Florida "since the turn of the century," according to Adam Beasley of the MIAMI HERALD. A "regularly sold-out home field, and a city that fully embraces its oldest pro franchise -- doesn’t appear as far off as it once did." Ticket sales, which increased by 16% last season, are "well ahead" of the pace set in '13. Dolphins Senior VP & Chief Revenue Officer Jeremy Walls added that season-ticket sales are 15% "ahead of last year's pace." The team's renewal rate is "the highest it has been in six years." The club for a while "was a locomotive speeding in the wrong direction -- and gaining steam." Beasley: "Before it can reverse course, a train needs to be stopped. With renewed public interest and renovations to aging Sun Life Stadium finally under way, the Dolphins have probably done so." But the Dolphins’ fan base "lags behind much of the league," as home attendance ranked 21st in '13. Local TV ratings also "were the worst among any franchise that doesn’t share a city with another NFL team." Until recently, the Dolphins were "eclipsed locally" by the Heat, which "made AmericanAirlines Arena a destination." Earning public support is now the job of Dolphins Senior VP & CMO Claudia Lezcano, who "intends [to] create a local atmosphere that rallies dormant supporters and creates new ones." The team’s latest marketing campaign is "based on this 'ethos,' as Lezcano called it: Stronger Together." Residents of Miami will "see that slogan everywhere -- from roadside billboards to TV ads to banners at construction sites" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/20). In Ft. Lauderdale, Chris Perkins wrote, "The kingdom is available for the Dolphins. LeBron James abdicated the throne." The Dolphins "have a golden opportunity" to be the "savior" for South Florida sports fans in the wake of James' departure. If the Dolphins -- "once the undisputed sports leader in South Florida -- handle this the right way they could grab what's now a vacant crown" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/20).
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