Saturday, August 29, 2015

Miami Dolphins Sold Me Obstructed Season Tickets

There was plenty of buzz for the first game at the freshly renovated Sun Life Stadium on Saturday night. It was preseason, but the Miami Dolphins still came through with an announced attendance of 60,661 football fans -- the largest showing in seven years.

However, lost in all of the hype of swanky premium seats, upgraded food options, and promises of even more improvements for the 2016 season is that I -- and a few other longtime season ticket holders like myself -- got stuck with seats that until tonight we didn't know only offer a partial view of the playing field. 

This is my new seat for the 2015 season. This is Section 111. Row 13. More than half the field is obstructed by other fans and a steel-lined glass panel railing.  It's as bad as it looks, and it gets even worse for the two seats to my left. See that diagonal wall? Those two fans weren't at the game tonight, but there going to be even more steamed than I am when they show up to realize what the Miami Dolphins organization sold them.

See, I had a choice. I had a lot of choices. My wife and I have been season ticket holders since 1987, and with 28 years of seniority we had early dibs on the relocation that every fan had to go through earlier this year. When our turn came up, it was logical to want to duplicate the same seats that we had enjoyed for 28 years -- overlooking the tunnel where the players would enter and leave the stadium, row five of what used to be Section 156.

We know that those exact seats would no longer be available. They were perfect. The first five rows of the old Section 156 in the endzone featured just two seats -- the tunnel -- and another seven seats on the other side of the tunnel. My wife and I had the two seats with the aisle to the left and great personal interaction with the players, celebrities, and VIPs that would go in and out of the tunnel to the right.

Players come in from opposing corner tunnels now. They didn't exist until this season. When our turn came up there were no seats on top of the Dolphins tunnel so we figured the visiting team's tunnel would have to do. At no point were we told that the seats were obstructed or that the glass panel -- one where the glare from the scoreboard and stadium lights makes an already unpleasant viewing situation even more challenging -- would make it impossible to view the entire field.

If we knew that, obviously we wouldn't have chosen these seats, and that's where things get dicey. My wife and I can't go back in time to where our seniority granted us most of the stadium at our disposal. The relocation process is done. All of the good seats are gone. We chose -- and chose poorly -- but largely because the Dolphins didn't disclose that some of the new seats being added were in fact obstructed.

Making matters worse, row 13 in section 111 -- the front row above the tunnel -- doesn't have proper draining. We spent the entire game in an inch of water. If it rains as it did just before and during the game you're going to have your shoes and socks soaked. I imagine this is the same situation just above all four of the new corner sections that now have tunnels. I can't imagine what will happen when we get a real downpour, and it wont' be a matter of merely dealing with standing water on the lowest row.

The Miami Dolphins are celebrating 50 years of history, and I've been a loyal season ticket holder through most of that run. Speaking out isn't my style, and a few years ago the Dolphins honored me at Sun Life for being the first person to renew my season tickets after an otherwise challenging season. However, I can't stay silent after being wronged. The headlines on Saturday morning will be gushing about the renovated stadium's upgrades, but some of us got cheated in the relocation process.