Dolphins making fans feel at home

ByDarren Rovell ESPN logo
Thursday, February 5, 2015

The battle between the in-stadium experience and watching a game at home just got more intense.

The Miami Dolphins are knocking out seats on the 30-yard lines in the lower bowl of the south side of Sun Life Stadium as part of their $400 million renovation and adding 32 "living rooms." The areas are sold in groups of four, and each includes a 30-inch wide recliner and iPad, with options for a 32-inch TV ($15,000 more) or four 24-inch TVs ($30,000 more).

The standard cost for the package of four seats is $75,000 and includes food and drinks and access to a lounge area.

"We're out to give a fan the very best seat and the very best experience they could possibly have," said Dolphins president and CEO Tom Garfinkel. "There are enough people in this marketplace that, if you can do that, [you] don't care what it costs."

Garfinkel said the current luxury suite isn't ideal for everyone, especially people who want to cheer and feel like they are part of the stadium. The new seats, which are also available in 14 pods of four in the end zone, will allow fans to do what they do at home but be at the game.

"You'll have a comfortable chair, the replays in front of you, RedZone on," Garfinkel said. "You'll have a mini garbage to throw things out, you'll have a drawer with a lock to put your valuables in, you'll have concierge service so you don't have to get up to get anything, and you'll have the game in front of you."

The seats also come with access to a VIP lane that will allow fans who pay top dollar to get in and out of the stadium more quickly.

The Dolphins follow in the footsteps of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who last year took out seats in their stadium to make room for cabanas and pools.

Garfinkel said he expects to sell all these seats and have a waiting list. The new seats are not meant to suggest that one group of fans is more important than another, Garfinkel said; it's just the way the team will make back the money for the stadium's renovations, which are privately funded.

"We have 17,000 tickets that are under $50, and they'll stay that way," Garfinkel said. "We're not going to attach $20,000 PSLs to the upper bowl. So the way we'll make money back is through scarcity of this luxury seating product. People think about the airplanes jamming people in to make the most money possible. We're going the other way."

During the renovation, the stadium's capacity will be reduced from 75,000 to 65,000.

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