Sagging economy a no-win for South Florida sports team

Scan the stands at a South Florida pro sports event and there's one constant -- a lot of empty seats.

But unlike last year, don't blame the performance of the teams.

Instead, the slumping economy is taking a toll on fan turnout -- and in some ways, forcing the Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat, Florida Panthers and the Florida Marlins to rethink how they do business.

Cash-strapped fans are buying fewer tickets, and spending less when they do go to a game. Homestead resident Bob Pozza, who works for an appliance manufacturer, and his son Joe, 15, are attending fewer Heat games this year. ``And all the extra stuff we bought has been eliminated. Now, we eat before we get here.''

The Heat and Panthers have been hard hit. The Heat is averaging 17,530 tickets distributed per game, which ranks 16th of 30 teams and is down significantly from 19,635 last season.

Read the complete story at