Marlins closing off top deck of new stadium because nobody sits there anyway

If you thought the Miami Marlins‘ attendance disaster couldn’t get any more embarrassing, it just got more embarrassing:

The Marlins, whose attendance ranks last in the National League five weeks into the season, have decided to close the upper bowl at Marlins Park for at least some weeknight games.

That’s right: On top of setting a record last year for worst attendance in the first year in a new stadium, and being dead last in the league in attendance in their second year (though three American League teams have even sadder ticket sales, including the second-place Kansas City Royals), now the Marlins are using a cost-saving trick — and no matter what the team says about a “better fan experience,” this is mostly about saving operating costs by shutting down concession stands and restrooms in underused areas — that has previously been used only by teams demanding new stadiums because their old ones are so poorly attended. And the Oakland A’s, who have tarped off their own upper deck since 2006, are actually ahead of the Marlins in attendance this year. And the Marlins’ stadium only has 37,000 seats to begin with, barely more than the Oakland Coliseum has after the tarps were installed.

Let’s see, what else could make the nearly one billion dollars spent by Florida taxpayers on this new mostly empty stadium even sadder? How about retail tenants backing out of leasing storefronts at Marlins parking garages because they’re afraid there won’t be any foot traffic?

19 comments on “Marlins closing off top deck of new stadium because nobody sits there anyway

  1. So let me understand. The Marlins owner who got tons of cash to build a new state of the art ball park wants to close off the upper deck and probably use the excuse of a better fan experience. You would think that he is saving a ton of money not having to use the homerun whatever it is called in the outfield. Maybe all they needed was to have worked out a deal to use the Mets spring training ball park in Port St Lucie during the regular season. He may have the same issue with filling seats there as well, but at least it would be less seats to tarp off if need be saving money on material.

  2. Pretty good deal for anyone who actually wants to go to a weekday game. Buy tix in the upper deck and get a free upgrade to the lower deck!

    Interesting that they spent $120M for the parking garages. Was recently looking at the information about TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, where they got a perfectly nice 24,000 seat stadium for $131M.

    Yeah, we’re talking to you, Stuart Steinberg.

  3. I am sure the owners of the Athletics and Rays are loving this as well. The Marlins said that they needed a new ball park which would bring in more people which would produce more revenue and produce better teams. Oakland and Tampa average more people per game in their, “outdated stadiums”. They better come up with a new strategy, because if I am one of the two cities being asked for help, all I need to do is say Florida Marlins, and they just lost the main argument to ask for money.

  4. I’m sure there are people in Sacramento noticing the 39.2% of capacity figure for Seattle. This should get mentioned at the NBA meetings next week.

  5. That’s really sad when an establishment like Tilted Kilt backs out of a location next to a baseball stadium that can seat close to 40,000. Sports fans about to go to a park with $8 beers and comely barmaids selling beer ahead of the game seems like a goldmine until foot traffic is abysmally low.

  6. Steve R, that’s because… umm… oh, the Mariners were against the NBA arena and those 44,000 potential ticket holders are sticking it to the Ms. *Prays nobody notices the ’12, ’11 numbers are only slightly better*

    Nah, Seattle has hit sports saturation and fans like to go where things are exciting. I have no doubt the NBA in Seattle could have a good first 4 years or so, in the honeymoon phase, but the bandwagon fans account for a high portion of attendance.

    Luckily, the Sounders are still selling well (and they’re happy using Paul Allen’s american football stadium with astroturf, for now).

  7. The Pirates are cheap in this way, too. When I went last season, the team was off to a hot start and Strasburg was pitching. Plenty of bathrooms and concessions on the upper level were closed even with a 25k+ crowd. The lines were so long I gave up and moved to crappier lower level seats.

  8. Phil, shouldn’t be a problem for the A’s. They’re not asking for San Jose to pay for any of their stadium. They’re going to almost all private route like the Giants did up the highway in San Francisco. That and they’re 3500 miles away in a market that’s proven it likes new stadiums in good locations based on the Giants attendance the last decade and a half. The Rays however as you say may have a problem. Particularly given they’re the other Florida team and they’re outdrawing Miami.

  9. The A’s are only asking MLB to allow them to move to san jose, because other than physical location of a stadium Giants Territory rights mean nothing…

  10. $131m wouldn’t get the Rays past the field level. Using the Omaha building as a way for any MLB franchise to go is short sided.
    Financial imitations of customers in all Florida cities is what is hemming in the Rays, they can be winning pennants annually and they’ll be begging for customers.
    The biz dominance of the Giants will keep the A’s down in the foreseeable future no matter where they go in that area.
    Until the A’s put their “private financing” in writing and stick to it, it’s just bluster. There’s plenty of incidental costs that the taxpayers will be hit with – just look at what happened in NYC. In current MLB financial terms, the SF bay area can only handle one franchise – not two.
    Territorial rights do mean a lot within the business, that’s the main reason why the other 28 owners aren’t ganging up on Larry Baer to give in.
    A’s assumed the Giants would end up in in SJ by the early 90’s, they also assumed that they could capitalize on drawing better from the north bay and SF but that all backfired on them. They then sat on their hands as the Giants worked hard to dominate the market and now want to improve their finances (and hurt the Giants) with a get out of jail (Oakland) free card and the Giants rightfully want to be compensated.
    Fans gotta think like any bisiness owner.

  11. One other thing, the businesses that are running away from Loria & Dade Co. know is the old saying “laying down with dirty dogs and get up with fleas”.

  12. “$131m wouldn’t get the Rays past the field level. Using the Omaha building as a way for any MLB franchise to go is short sided.”

    Bah, it’s not even short-sighted. The Omaha stadium is supposedly designed to allow future expansion to 35,000. Do something like that, add a few suites and you’ll never convince me it wouldn’t be a perfect under-$300M stadium for the Rays.

    But they’d never agree to build a stadium for a reasonable price because that wouldn’t be “major league”. A city could come to Steinberg tomorrow and say “we’ll build you a very nice 35,000 seat stadium with plenty of suites – and you don’t have to pay a cent. We can do it for $250M.” And he’d quickly find a reason to turn ’em down. MLB probably wouldn’t let him do it.

  13. Minute Maid Park (aka The Ballpark at Union Station, Enron Field and Astros Ballpark) was built for $312M with the public picking up $250M and the Astros paying $62M of the original cost. That was in the year 2000 and included the retractable roof and the renovation of Union Station. While not ranked as the highest rated ballpark, it is still firmly in the “major league park” category 13 years later.

    So, what is the inflation value of $312M 2000 dollars in 2013 dollars? Whatever that is would be a good estimate of what it costs to build a major league park with a retractable roof, assuming that you can get labor for the rate it is available in Houston.

    It’s not just the seating bowl. It’s the office and retail space as well as the cost of the workers building the structure. If anything has changed in those 13 years (besides that Astros winning percentage), it’s the amount of square footage outside of the seating bowl that major league teams want. It’s also the technology infrastructure with $15M videoboards.

    I’m suspecting that the Omaha stadium has cheaper labor and smaller videoboards than what anyone in the Tampa Bay area would want. Nothing like a good case of videoboard envy (bigger is better) to add a few more million.

  14. “So, what is the inflation value of $312M 2000 dollars in 2013 dollars?”

    $421 million.

  15. Last I checked the price of materials has been rising far faster than the rate of inflation.

  16. Don’t want to get stuck off-topic, but Omaha does rank significantly higher than the Tampa area in household and per capita income, which I assume would translate into lower labor costs for Tampa. But you’re probably right about increased costs of videoboards.

  17. Maybe the Marlins should close off the home team side in the lower bowl as well for a better fan experience. Most of the fans would want to sit on the side of their team’s dugout, (which in the Marlins case is the visiting team).

  18. Neither Sternberg or MLB would go for scaled down. Ya can’t charge MLB prices for minor league accommodations and expect customers to buy it.
    The roof needed will run at least 300m.

    Your comparison is apples & oranges.

  19. The new ballpark craze is over especially In Nyc i was Yankee season ticket holder and gave them back. Way too expensive.