After years of controversy, the NFL finally decided to ease its blackout rules this season. The Dolphins now only have to sell out 85 percent of Sun Life Stadium to ensure their games are broadcast on TV. Well, despite the eased rule and the fact that this weekend's game is the home opener, the team announced that they still had to buy their own tickets in order to avoid a blackout.
Under the old rules, a team had to sell out 100 percent of non-premium seats 72 hours before kick off, or else the game would not be shown anywhere on television within 75 miles. The Dolphins haven't had a blackout since 1998, but that's not because they're always selling out. The team has had to partner with the station broadcasting the game (usually CBS affiliate WFOR) and other sponsors to buy out the tix.
This season the NFL finally eased the policy. Teams could elect to lower that threshold to as low as 85 percent (though, if they regularly exceeded that number they'll be forced to share that ticket revenue).
The Dolphins couldn't even quite sell that 85 percent for their home opener this Sunday against the Raiders.
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"As we've said many times, keeping the games on local television has been a priority of Steve Ross' since he purchased the franchise," Dolphins Chief Executive Officer Mike Dee said in a statement. "Any remaining unsold seats will be offered to Dolphins premium seat holders and season ticket members on a first come first served basis."
The Dolphins averaged only 81 percent actual paid attendance last year, so the fact they still have to buy their own tickets isn't surprising, but it is kind of sad considering its the home opener.