Summer settles in over the tropics as greens fees are a true bargain, stone crabs are off limits, the water in the glades is high, the NBA playoffs own the headlines and the first barrage of presidential ads hit the local airwaves.
Cape Florida on Key Biscayne graces the top 10 beaches in the USA again.
The UM campus track is awash in Olympic athletes including Lauryn Williams training with Amy Deem, the UM track coach and women’s track coach for the USA Olympics. Optimism abounding for a strong medal showing in good ol’ London town come mid August.
The Miami football Dolphins, long time dominant sports talk and headlines anytime after June 1, are a 6.5game o/u which we think sounds about right. Might be a little on the low side. The normally rabid fan base is nonchalant. Low expectations are gaining traction, and thus far the new regime is doing little to change that attitude. Joe Philbin and his coaching assistants are no longer appearing in photos of charity fishing tournaments in Islamorada and Key Largo and are conducting OTA’s in Davie, Florida (home of their training facility and a large rodeo arena). Locals are so excited that Lamar Miller, former UM running back and walk on may make the (taxi) squad. Ryan Tannehill and friends are setting about making the Fins relevant for the first time in recent memory: something easily accomplished with winning 10+games.
In a similar vein, the UM football Hurricanes and Coach Al Golden are beginning to gain some ink and air time. Golden is not shy. He has recruited well. He wants the ACC championship which has avoided the U thus far and wants it now. This, while the U is still in the ACC. Considerable chatter has the U migrating toward the Big 12 with FSU and Clemson in tow. Golden has a beefed up schedule and anxious fan base. An 8 or 9 win season would placate (sort of) the U fans.
West on the Tamiami Trail the Florida International University football team coached by coveted ex theU linebacker, Mario Cristobal, continues to improve and win meaningful games thus drawing more fans. For a commuter campus much like USF the upside at FIU is very good; and the recent departure of Isaiah Thomas as basketball coach replaced by Rick Pitino’s son has been met favorably in the press and alum circles.
Pete DeBoeur, NHL Devils coach in Stanley Cup competition was thrown out of Florida’s Panthers last year after three lack luster years in the Loss column and a decade out of the playoffs.. Hockey aficionados surmise that what he was able to accomplish with three years of mainly AHL prospects gave him the experience, expertise and player philosophy necessary to prod his veteran Devils into a superhuman effort and perhaps ultimately take home Lord Stanley’s cup.
The MIAMI Marlins in their new crib continue to win and are firmly ensconced in the upper tier of the NL and more importantly the NL east. As the east teams all beat up on one another, sooner or later one will emerge. We’d guess in August by which time the Phillies may be healthy. Nevertheless, the Miami Herald researched early attendance at the new stadium which is light years ahead of the attendance at their old ball park, Sun Life Stadium.
Current crowds average in the mid 23-27,000 with four games drawing over 30,000 (capacity 37,000). Last year in Sun Life Stadium the team drew over 30,000 only 4 times all season.
The initial quarter season featured relatively soft competition, and low draw teams (Pirates, Reds, Dbacks, Astros) and, the team has played many more weekday games than weekend games—-which draw considerably higher crowds. That pattern changes in midsummer as interleague and interdivision play ratchet up. Management says it is happy with the initial sales. The figures released by the team are tickets sold and not fannies in seats. Many of the televised ball games show considerable banks of empty seats which has a serious impact on income from parking and concessions.
A 2.5million total attendance at season end would be a reasonable number and improve the team dramatically from last place to mid pack or higher in the NL. As the team remains competitive, and Ozzie Guillen topical, there’s every reason for continued fan appeal. Opposing players have tabbed the park as a pitcher’s park but the roof and surface have enjoyed positive comments as the management tweaks the sound and air conditioning systems.
Then there’s the MIAMI HEAT. A soap opera with two endings. Ending one is the national view that the bad boy Heat get clobbered by the friendly, always smiling, totally professional western division champ. Ending two, the local one, has Flash, Slash, CB, UD,RIO and RILES and SPO riding on floats down Biscayne Blvd thumbing their noses at C.Barkley.
At the Pari-Mutuels and Racinos there’s occasional racing action to compete with the non stop ringing of the slots. Calder Race Course and Casino gears up for the popular Summit of Speed July 7 which includes the $400,000 Princes Rooney and Smile Sprint handicaps, and $150,000 Azalea and Carryback Stakes. As the poker and slots feed the 7 area racinos, there’s jai alai, and dog racing on a reduced basis throughout the tri county area.
As the locals leave the scorching humidity of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Key West, etc. for the cooler confines of the smoky mountains and blue ridge, the landscape for sports quiets; always has, always will.
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