The Miami Heat’s summer signings of big-name players like LeBron James and Chris Bosh (not to mention former Celtics favorite Eddie House) make them seem destined to have, at the very least, a great regular season. But although these signings have been great for season-ticket buyers, how will other South Florida teams’ attendance be affected?
Miami’s other big team, the Dolphins, has struggled to fill the Sun Life Stadium in the past two seasons, and most team ranking websites predict that they likely won’t be a Super Bowl contender this year either.
Last season, the Dolphins averaged an attendance 67,543 per game, up slightly from the previous season, but still only the 19th highest attendance in the NFL. Will the Dolphins be able to continue that trend now that there are super-stars like James playing in the same town? They’ll have to start the season off well if they want to take Miami sports’ fans attention away from the basketball court.
And let’s not forget about the almost forgettable Florida Panthers. The Panthers have only qualified for the NHL playoffs in three seasons since they were brought into the league in the 1993 expansion draft, and hockey isn’t exactly the most popular sport in the south.
The Panthers have averaged just over 15,000 people in attendance in the past few seasons, at an arena that holds 19,250 for hockey games. The biggest thing the Panthers have going for them is their goalie, Tomas Vokoun. But a team needs to score goals too, to keep fans interested.
However, there could also be an upside for the Dolphins and Panthers this season. With everyone scrambling to get a glimpse of James, Bosh, and Dwayne Wade, ticket prices for the Heat are much higher than last season. This could leave sports fans who might usually prefer seeing a basketball game heading to a football stadium or hockey arena instead. Economic factors play a big role in what events people choose to see, and Florida’s jobless rate was 11.5 percent in July.
Even if you’re a Celtics fan looking for cheap tickets to the home-opener against the Heat, good luck finding them. Tickets are going for up to $19,000 online. In comparison, tickets for the Feb. 10th game against the Lakers will only cost you up to $5,500.
Other teams are seeing the same price increase from second-hand ticket sellers. Seeing the Heat playing the Lakers on Christmas Day in Los Angeles could set you back $22,000, if you want courtside seats. The same websites have Panthers tickets going for under $10 for most games. For those prices, you could see every Panthers game and still pay less than you would for a high-priced seat at a Heat game.
At this point, it remains to be seen whether South Florida sports fans will flock to football and hockey games instead of paying much higher prices to see the Heat. One thing is for sure though: Even if some Heat fans can’t afford to see them play live, the Heat aren’t going to have any problems filling American Airlines Arena. People love to see teams win, and with the Heat’s current roster, they’ll be doing plenty of that in the next few months.
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