That sums up the economy in Southwest Florida. I know, I know, the whole country is hurting, but it's the pits here. How can I tell you may wonder? Because, the Miami Dolphins are actually paying attention to us.
During my six year stint in Fort Myers the area NFL teams barely paid any attention to us. I can remember a newsroom visit by the Dolphin cheerleaders and I've got a cheesy Tampa Bay Buccaneers football bank sitting on a kitchen shelf, but I'm pretty sure both teams took the fan base around here for granted.
But Florida's economy is completely in the crapper. Our wonderful legislature stole from just about every rainy day account to balance the budget without raising taxes. We had the hottest housing market in the nation three years ago, now it's the worst. My home has lost half its value from the peak of the market, fortunately I bought before it went completely out of control.
So with that in mind, out of nowhere, two weeks ago the Miami Dolphins showed up in our area to tell the folks around here that the team has quote "proclaimed a re-commitment to the area." I think it speaks volumes. Even the NFL, a license to print money, is hurting in Florida.
Today Dolphin players showed up at a local library to read to kids. I'm floored. Next thing you know Dolphin cheerleaders will be holding a car wash at one of the local 7/11's.
We're two hours from Miami and two hours from Tampa. I've never been to a game at either stadium and even when the Kansas City Chiefs have been here I really didn't care about making the drive and I love pro football. In fact, my first trip to an NFL stadium in Florida will be in October when U2 plays at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Of course unless, I don't have a job at that point and am forced to sell the tickets to pay my mortgage!