I love sports so when we were planning our trip to Orlando, Florida I wanted to see some American sports. An NFL match was top of the list.
I had a spreadsheet set up. An actual, detailed spreadsheet. I’d send this over to my girlfriend on a fairly regular basis. She’d always say when she received it that it was the highlight of her day. Or she promptly deleted it without looking at it. I can’t remember which of those exactly, my memory fails me!
I’d not really paid much attention to the NFL but a friend used to go on about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so I thought I should pick a team to follow! The easiest team for us to get to was the Miami Dolphins. They would be my team. I had little knowledge of them but they’d be my adopted NFL side. The aqua and white side had one new fan! I’m sure this news would spur the team on when I would come to visit!
I have a season ticket at a football (soccer) side in Scotland and it costs me around £450 ($590) a year for around 20 games. The average cost of an NFL ticket surprised me somewhat! We decided on attending the Miami Dolphins versus New York Jets on 22 October 2017. Tickets for the match were readily available on the official Miami Dolphins website through Ticketmaster.
I was in charge of booking so I decided to go for the third tier in the Hard Rock Stadium and they were on the lower end of the ticket prices – $108 (£82) each. The tickets ranged from around $75 (£57) to $350 (£267) for one game. I think I’d need to take out a loan to buy a decent season ticket at the Dolphins! The only available option was to print out at home which wasn’t an issue for us. I would’ve quite liked a traditional ticket but it’s cheaper this way I guess.
The Matchday Experience
We got an Uber from our hotel in South Beach and we were a bit tight for time so only managed to see the end of the massive tailgate party. The stadium itself holds around 65,000 but it can be quite breezy in the top tier. Our tickets were in section 320 which is central with a good view of the pitch. I did miss most of the good pre match entertainment trying to get food and beer! What I did see was standard American affair and I was back in my seat for the national anthem. 64,998 people singing The Star-Spangled Banner is something else!
One thing that surprised me was the number of New York Jets fans in amongst the home crowd and just the number of away fans in general. There was a bit of friendly banter which turned a bit with an early Jets touchdown. The Dolphins were down 21-14 at half time and it didn’t look too great!
At half time we were treated to a showing of the ‘winningest’ 1972 Super Bowl winning Miami Dolphins team. They are the only team to win the Super Bowl with a perfect record, winning 17 games. What a feat! This was the first of the two Super Bowls that the Dolphins have won. The second and last Super Bowl win was a year later in 1973.
The Jets went 28-14 up in the third quarter and it looked like a disappointing first NFL game for me. Some brilliant throws from Matt Moore in the last quarter turned it right round. A late field goal from the Dolphins meant they won 31-28. What an end to my first live NFL game!
Our research before the match suggested we use the Uber Zone at the stadium to get back after the match. After the game finished we decided to head there. Worst. Decision. Ever. The Uber Zone was basically a big tent with hundreds of people rammed in, all trying to book an Uber. We managed to get one at around $37 (£28). This is great we thought – we’re doing better than everyone else. Nope. The driver cancelled on us when he was just a few minutes away. I try again, it’s gone up to $57 (£43) and he calls to say the roads are closed and he can’t get there, after starting the meter… Uber staff sorted that out for us. Luckily, stadium staff came over and suggested we get one of their buses to South Beach. $10 (£8) each and we were off!
Tip: Do not use the Uber Zone until they fix the issues! Too many people trying to get Ubers with police closing roads makes it difficult to get anywhere.
All in all it was a really enjoyable experience; Americans really know how to ‘do sports’. I’ll definitely be back when I next can. I’ll also be following my new NFL team closely!