The Dolphins, meanwhile, have been buying up unsold tickets over the last couple of years as its normally robust attendance has flagged. Season ticket purchases have dwindled from more than 61,000 in 2006 to little more than 40,000 last year, but ownership is looking for $350 million in stadium renovations and seems aware that keeping the Dolphins off television isn't a great way to get them.
As the Miami example makes clear, if the Glazers have any designs on upgrading Raymond James Stadium, they're going to need to play nice with the public. As they're learning from Jacksonville, fans tend to be a whole lot more receptive to shelling out cash and filling seats when the team keeps games on the air and gives its fan base at least some hope that it will stick around a while.
By keeping games on television and making it clear that they're going into their own pockets to do so, they're clearly trying to restore public trust in the team that has taken a beating over the last few seasons. The cynic's view is that they know this is going to be a tough season and that it's tough to get fans in the Tampa area out to the stadium under even slightly better circumstances.
The more optimistic view is that they know that maintaining even the most loyal of fanbases takes work. Younger fans need to actually see their team on a regular basis to form an attachment to it, while older fans aren't as likely to wait out the bad times and spend on the team if they feel ownership isn't in their corner. Either way it's a business proposition, but the latter approach makes fans feel more like people than like assets that are moved around as owners deem necessary.With the average NFL ticket selling for $81, going to a game has become a significant investment for the average fan as well. With the stakes high on each side of the equation, it takes a mix of concessions and trust to form a bond between a fan and an organization. Much like the relationship between a consumer and a brand, the fan/team dynamic only works if there's value for the buyer and a modicum of loyalty for the seller. The Glazers took a big step toward meeting their end of the bargain. Time will tell if fans will return the favor. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. Follow @notteham
>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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