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Alone Among NFL Franchises, Miami Dolphins Suffer Huge Fan Drop in Last 10 Years

| December 1, 2012

Whatever its name–and it has had many–from Joe Robbie Stadium to Dolphin Stadium to Sun Life Stadium–Miami’s home field has gone begging for NFL fans. (Sportech)

When it comes to pro teams with the largest growth of fans disguised as empty seats, the Miami Dolphins are tops in Florida.

As the Dolphins muddle through another season, the South Florida organization was the only professional team from Florida — and the only NFL entry on the whole list of North American sports franchises — to record a heart-in-the-throat plummet in fans over the past decade, according to 24/7 Wall St.

The Delaware-based online financial news outlet put the Dolphin fan exodus at 17.1 percent over the past decade, with its average attendance dropping from 73,470 in 2001-2002 — the seventh-highest in the NFL – to 60,866, the fifth-lowest in 2011-2012.

“In the last 10 full seasons, the team has gone 60-84 and has had three consecutive losing seasons in a row,” 24/7 Wall St. stated. “Its worst season by far was the 2007-2008 season, when the Dolphins won just one game. The team isn’t performing stellar this year, either.”

Luring fannies into seats is a piece of cake if you win games, say Florida sportscasters. But the Dolphins haven’t fielded a winner in a long time. Their last playoff victory came in 2000, they’ve gone 43-65 since the start of the 2006 season, and this year’s home opener against Oakland was their first home-opening win since 2005.

The attendance at that first home game of 2012 was 54,245, smallest opening-Sunday crowd in decades. As for season ticket sales? Last year’s total hit a historic rock-bottom of 42,584.

“When our kids were growing up, we had season tickets,” Retired shopkeeper Eli Lopez of Hollywood told Sunshine State News. “Never missed a game in nine seasons.

“But the kids are grown now and, I don’t know, the team keeps dumping good players and trying new quarterbacks who don’t work out.

“I watch on television when they put the games on, which isn’t often because they don’t sell out,” he said.

LeBron James’ endorsement haul is $40 million a year; Reggie Bush — arguably the Fins’ biggest star — gets a few hundred dollars for pushing gym memberships. But Bush takes it in stride.

“The city of Miami has to fall in love with us again,” he told a TV reporter last month. “It’s up to us on the team to make that happen.”

A lack of success on the field is a hallmark for most of the teams on the 24/7 Wall St. list, with the Seattle Mariners in the top overall spot.

“The best way for teams to keep fans coming to games is to win games,”  agreed the website. “The attendance of several teams in each sport has fallen mainly because of bad play, poor management, or being based in a market with a struggling economy.”


As for the Marlins, Miami’s baseball team, which recorded one of the lowest attendances for a Major League club playing in a new stadium, the numbers for the past season were still a marked increase from prior years. How fans react at the turnstile to the salary dump to Toronto will have to wait until next spring.

Meanwhile, the top 13 downhill racers on the 24/7 Wall St. list of sports franchises:

1. Seattle Mariners (MLB): 51.4 percent.

2. Cleveland Indians (MLB): 38.7 percent.

3. Houston Astros (MLB): 36.1 percent.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB): 32 percent.

5. Dallas Stars (NHL): 23.2 percent.

6. Oakland Athletics (MLB): 22.6 percent.

7. Detroit Pistons (NBA): 22.3 percent.

8. New York Mets (MLB): 22 percent.

9. Baltimore Orioles (MLB): 19.7 percent.

10. Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL): 19.2 percent.

11. Washington Wizards (NBA): 19.1 percent.

12. Milwaukee Bucks (NBA): 19 percent.

13. Miami Dolphins (NLF): 17.1 percent.

–Sunshine State News

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11 Responses for “Alone Among NFL Franchises, Miami Dolphins Suffer Huge Fan Drop in Last 10 Years”

  1. Wow says:

    Go JAGUARS!!!!!! They didn’t make the list!!!!! Score!!!!

  2. Ryan says:

    Could the loss of fans be caused by changing demographics in that area?

  3. John Boy says:

    Because of several factors fans have decided these franchises have lost all of their luster, outrageous salaries, taxpayer paid venues, drugs, bling, etc. None of the teams make money because of creative accounting practices and cities / taxpayers are left holding the bag. No more stupid spending from consumers. Professional sports teams are in a death spiral for sure.

  4. Deep South says:

    Pro Football is a tough sale in Florida. Who wants to go to a football game or stay home watching football, when their is so much to do outside ? We’re not like the North. To cold !! Also, college football rules in Florida.

  5. The Geode says:

    Attendance is down because (1) I (and most people) have HDTVs that shows the game better than you can EVER see in person. (2) The television contracts allows dozens of camera angles. (3) I can watch in comfort rather than surrounded by a bunch of surly drunks. (unless I choose to go to the sports bar) (4) I have the NFL RED-ZONE which allows me to watch the best plays from EVERY game rather suffer through 1 lame one. (5) I can check the stats of my “fantasy football” team while grilling and drinking beer surrounded by friends. Change with the time or be left behind…

  6. Tim says:

    It’s not that hard to figure out. First, hire a progression of not-as-good-as-the-last-one head coaches after you ease the legend out the door. Second, find ways to not go to the Super Bowl with one of the best QB’s to play the game. Third, trade away any player that might actually make your team better. Fourth, bring in a series of never-were-really-that-good RBs. Fifth, don’t draft top tier QBs when you can make a starter out of someone else’s back-up for cheap. Keep that going, and even the most ardent fans will get weary.

  7. Ben Dover says:

    The Jagoffs are one of the biggest reasons we lost our fan base for twenties years I was able to watch Dolphins games on Tv , then the Jagoffs come to Florida and nobody asks what team we want to watch the Dolphins just get booted off TV , and for what the suckiest team in the state, they were a little fair in the beginning could watch one on 4 and one on 6 now they just cram that lousy team up in Jax down our throats , so people that were fans lost interest , wasn t fair at all , they destroyed our team doing that ,

    • Deep South says:

      Actually Ben we should be in the Jacksonville TV market. A while back our county commissioners informed the FCC to change our TV market to Orlando. This really doesn’t make any sense because we have never been a fit with Orlando. They need to move us back to the Jacksonville market where we belong.

      • Joe says:

        I agree 100% Deep South…you know what I did? I dumped cable/dish and now I get all my Jax stations crystal clear with antenna. We live closer to Jax and we should be a Jax TV market. I hate Orlando why would I want to watch their news? I live 45 minutes from the southside of Jax while it takes me over an hour just to get to Sanford. Go Jags!!!!

  8. JAMES says:

    To Ben I don’t care about the Dolphins, Jax is north florida and I don’t want to watch a team from the south. Plus CBS only shows Dolphins games when the Jags play at home so what are you complaining about. I wish CBS would only show Jag games. If you want to watch the Dolphins get the NFL package.

  9. Belldin says:

    I moved from Florida to North Carolina for a job and I have yet to be able to find a way to view the Dolphin games on tv. Anyone here have any ideas how I can view Dolphins games in North Carolina? Directtv is not an option…where I live they do not allow satellites…only cable.

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