There’s now proof that South Florida has become a basketball town. In fact, after two Miami Heat championships, all of Florida seems to be smitten by LeBron’s team.
That’s at least according to data released today on the number of Florida specialty plates. It shows that the Miami Heat tag has surpassed the plates for all other Florida pro sports teams.
In 2011, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had more specialty plates issued than any other pro sports team in the state, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
But the Heat last year surpassed the Bucs, with 30,526 plates for Miami's back-to-back champions. That’s enough to raise the Heat to the 10th most popular tag among Florida’s 120 specialty plates.
The rest of South Florida’s sports teams didn’t fare as well. The stuck-in-a-slump Dolphins ranked 27th, the last-place Marlins 78th, and the won-fewer-games-than-anyone Panthers landed near the bottom at 85th.
A Heat spokeswoman was not available for comment.
Proceeds from the state’s specialty plate program benefit charitable organizations. Drivers who agreed to pay an extra $25 registration fee for a Miami Heat tag indirectly gave money to the Professional Sports Development Trust Fund and the Florida Sports Foundation.
Colleges top the list of specialty plates, with the University of Florida coming in first, followed by Florida State.
Next came plates that benefit sea turtles, dolphins and panthers, respectively. So that means plates benefiting wild dolphins and panthers far outsold plates representing the pro Dolphins and Panthers.