How a long-standing legacy of victory becomes an asset for growth in a new era
Tom Garfinkel President & CEO – Miami Dolphins
What are the key components of the Miami Dolphins’ growth strategy for the medium term?
Our goal is to honor the proud winning tradition of the Dolphins and bring the team to a place where it is competing for championships every year. We celebrated our 50th season in 2015. For a part of that time, we were the only professional sports franchise in Florida and we had a lot of success. Because of that history, the team has a deeply emotional and meaningful connection with its fans, who are passionate and loyal. From a business strategy standpoint, we want to respect the passion of those supporters and find new ways to en- gage with them and enhance their experiences with the Dolphins. We are looking at the end-to-end experience, from concessions, security protocols, even bathroom conditions, and are measuring everything to try to set benchmarks and bring about improvements. Additionally, we are looking at new ways to open the dialogue with fans and make their voices more meaningful. We could presume to know what they want, but I find it’s a lot easier and more effective to simply ask them.
The Sun Life Stadium is a landmark infrastructure in the city. What is the strategic vision to grow its impact?
While the stadium is part of the Dolphins brand, our vision is for the stadium to become a global entertainment destination that will host the biggest events in the world, including football. To reach this goal, we’ve invested more than $450 million in renovations, which included moving seats closer to the field and building new seating products and exclusive clubs that create a unique luxury experience. Over half of the tickets sold for the Jay Z and Beyoncé concert in 2014 were bought with credit cards from outside South Florida, indicating that people were coming from out of the area, so we know we can be a destination for big events that reach far beyond our region. We have plans to host more international soccer games and festivals and become a competitive venue to host football championships and hopefully even the World Cup. Finally, we are taking advantage of the fact that Miami is a global curator for culture by improving food offerings and curating artists from around the world to display their work at the stadium.
What are some of the challenges of operating a major league sports team in this market?
Miami offers many opportunities for leisure, whether it’s the beach, art events, music or other sports. Because of this, we have a lot of competition relative to other markets where entertainment options are more limited. However, this also means that we have a tremendous opportunity to engage consumers by creating a variety of experiences using the stadium.