Last season, the Miami Dolphins had one of the most embarrassingly meager home-opener crowds in the team's long history. This year, the Fins might actually sell out their home opener this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. As in an actual, honest-to-God sellout.
Is it because the team is off to a surprisingly great start, or is it because the Dolphins are heavily promoting a concert featuring Justin Bieber 2.0, AKA Austin Mahone, during halftime?
For last year's home opener, the Dolphins had an announced attendance of 54,245 and distributed just 53,823 tickets -- the lowest number for a home opener since 1982. It was dismal. The Dolphins had only one true sellout the entire season, and that was for the New England Patriots game. At least 20 percent of those ticket buyers were Pats fans.
The team ended up having the fourth-worst attendance in the league last year, and the very worst by stadium occupancy (an embarrassing 76.3 percent). (The Dolphins, of course, buy up their own unsold tickets to avoid television blackouts.)
But the Dolphins might actually have a rare sold-out game to open this season, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald:
Dolphins are nearing a true sellout for Sunday's game. Have sold 13,500 more seats than last year's home opener.
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) September 18, 2013
The rule of thumb is that Miamians tend to support teams by showing up when they're doing well (see the Heat) and stay home when they're embarrassing sideshows (see the Marlins). So undoubtedly, the team's surprisingly strong 2-0 record on the road to open the season has fans feeling excited.
Of course, there is one X factor: the Austin Mahone halftime show. The team is selling $15 tickets to anyone under the age of 15 who arrives with an adult, and there'll even be a special Austin Mahone section.
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Now maybe you, noble sports fan, have never heard of Austin Mahone. He's 17, hasn't released a full album, and hasn't even had a Top 40 hit. But teen girls? They love him.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Dolphins are a regional concern, and there are internet-happy teenage girls around the world. And undoubtedly, if the game sells out, it will have more to do with fan excitement, but don't discount that teenybopper padding.