SBJ/Aug. 17-23, 2015/In Depth

Dolphins see potential for tailgating revenue

Is tailgating a missed revenue opportunity for NFL teams?

Tom Garfinkel, the Miami Dolphins president and CEO, thinks it is and has big plans in a few years to begin offering tailgating services.

“If you come to tailgate, and you know what, you forgot the ice, no problem,” he said. “They’re here, they can still bring their own stuff, or if they want to make it easier for themselves, we will set up the tents, the grill, the charcoal.”

NFL teams by and large try to sell to fans inside the stadium, and tailgating has largely been viewed as a fan experience outside the oversight of clubs. But Garfinkel sees no reason why that’s the case. He even envisions a general store in the middle of the parking lots, selling items like suntan lotion, hot dogs, umbrellas and beer.

So why not do it right away? As part of the renovation of Sun Life Stadium, the last step is the parking lots. There are plans for a pedestrian bridge, and even a tunnel, to aid the ingress and egress for fans attending games. Once the work is completed by 2017, Garfinkel expects to begin serving up Dolphins fare in the parking lots, which are owned by the team.

There even could be distinct themed tailgate areas, he said: a family one, a party affair, and a VIP section, something like a mini Super Bowl tailgate.

“Conventional wisdom is to just get people in the stadium,” Garfinkel said during an interview at the stadium, the parking lots in the distance behind him. Spinning around, motioning to the grounds, he said, “They are here, why wouldn’t we sell to them?”

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