If South Florida Went Finless, Would Anybody Notice?
I have lived in South Florida for nearly two years now. One thing I have noticed as a sports fan is how little the majority of the people down here care about their sports teams. Before I hooked up the horse and buggy to move down here, I lived in Madtown (Madison, WI). That, as much as I hate to admit it, was a great sports town. They always seemed to be behind all of their local and state teams. That is definitely not the case around here.
When I say finless, I mean both the Dolphins and the Marlins.
First, we will start with the Marlins. Back in 1993 when they poked their little heads out into the world of baseball, they averaged over 37,000 fans per game. This was with a less than stellar club, both on the field and on paper. Last year, when they were in the race until the last week of the season, they averaged just over 16,000 a game. In their World Series year of 2003, they actually averaged less per home game than last year. Point being, no one shows up, so why is there a professional baseball team here in the first place. The fans obviously don't appreciate them, and the millions and billions they are spending on a new stadium—well, that project could be looked at as a bad decision by the city of Miami down the road.
The Dolphins, on the other hand, are a little different of a story. But, I have noticed there are a lot of bandwagon fans. Two years ago when they went 1-15, attendance was way down, as was to be expected by a team that was so terrible, but even last year, it wasn't until the tail end of the season that attendance started to spike. You notice more people in this area with Giants, Jets, and Patriots schwag on than the Dolphins. Is everyone down here a snowbird from the upper East Coast?
Finally, I just want to put in a good word for the University of Miami's football team. They are stuck playing all home games at Dolphin Stadium, which is not a bad place to see a football game, but it is more than 40 minutes from the actual campus, and many students have to take buses to get there.
I know the athletic department thought it would be a good idea since most season ticket holders were in Broward and Palm Beach County, but come on! I went to two games this year, the UNC and FSU games, and the atmosphere was just not there.
This situation is similar to the one at the University of Minnesota. Some smug downtown businessmen back in the late 70's early 80's pressured the University to move all home Gopher games to the Metrodome, and abandon their on campus home, Memorial Stadium, AKA The Brick House. Granted those teams back then were not very good, but attendance slowly slipped, since the Dome was two-plus miles from the campus.
Now, nearly 30 years later, they finally figured it out, and HI-O the TCF Bank Stadium is opening up on campus. That place will be a real home field advantage, since students won't have to go over the river and through the woods to get there. So, is a new Orange Bowl for the U something that should be talked about? YES!!!!!!!
Bottom line is, who knows why a particular market brings in and doesn't bring in fans?Bloggers like me just put out examples and see what everyone else thinks. What are your thoughts? Do you go to every Marlins game? Are you a member of the Uggla's Uglies? Do you remember who replaced Dan Marino as the starting quarterback when he retired? Do you actually know the Heat won a championship?
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