By Rob Wile
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As columnist Rob Wile points out, “in a region known for its fickle fan bases and less-than-full stadiums, South Florida sees the greatest economic impact from the irregular events like soccer matches, concerts, and conventions they host.”
Sports in South Florida is on an upswing. But not for the reasons you think.
Yes, the Dolphins were sitting atop the AFC East Division in the NFL for the first time in years (well, until that awful Patriots game). Yes, the Heat has convinced Dwyane Wade to come back for a curtain-call NBA season. And yes, the city looks to be finally getting a professional soccer team.
But it’s not necessarily performance on the field that’s pushing teams forward. It’s the fields themselves.
Consider: According to the Miami Dolphins, the El Clasico soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona in July 2017 was the highest-grossing soccer event in North American history.
The team expects Super Bowl LIV, which Hard Rock is set to host in 2020, will be its highest-grossing-ever event.
And not counting sporting events, the stadium drew the largest crowds of any outdoor facility in the southeast U.S. last year, according to Pollstar, a research group that collects ticket sales data from promoters, venues and artist representatives. (Individual teams declined to provide data to the Miami Herald.)
It’s one reason why ratings agency Fitch found that 2017 total revenues for South Florida Stadium LLC, the Dolphins corporate entity registered as Hard Rock’s operator, grew 13.5 percent, “reflecting strong performance of ‘other events’.”
Or take AmericanAirlines Arena. While the Heat can still pack the stadium, the team only plays about 40 games a year on Biscayne Bay. But the arena, still only in its second decade, now ranks as the 18th-most-popular in the world by annual ticket volume, according to Pollstar data. That’s thanks the bevy of other high-profile acts, such as Elton John and Paul McCartney, it attracts year-round.