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April 16, 2012

Marlins' home sellout streak ends at one

For anyone who had bet the over on "Will the Miami Marlins' stadium honeymoon last more than a week?", things aren't looking great for either you or the Marlins. After selling out all 36,600 seats for their opening game on April 4, the Marlins' attendance over the weekend looked like this: 30,169, 31,659, 34,232.

Now, that's not chicken feed, especially for a series against the Houston Astros, whose best-known player is ... okay, I can't actually name a single member of the Houston Astros. And it's nearly double their pace from last year, even if you give them credit for the numbers that they reported to the league, not the meager number of fans who actually showed up to games. Still, it's worth noting that when the Minnesota Twins opened Target Field in 2010, they didn't fail to sell out a game until 2011. So it's not exactly an auspicious beginning in Miami when they can't fill the place even with curiosity-seekers hoping to get a look at either the roof or Jose Reyes' .238 batting average.

On the other hand, though, maybe Marlins fans really did retroactively avoid buying tickets to the first weekend series because they were mad at manager Ozzie Guillen for saying nice things about Fidel Castro. Or maybe the sellouts will commence now that everyone has gotten a look at the Red Grooms home run sculpture in action. Anything is possible.

COMMENTS

Did the fans not show up in protest or because Ozzie was not there ??? So 6,500 did not show up or purchase tickets for the Astros and the Marlins did not exactly come out hot out of the gate. Miami has a poor economic climate right now so I believe the residents of Little Havana would rather buy food for their family then purchase baseball tickets. I enjoyed Joe Robbie Stadium because it was open and had plenty of parking and access. I would take buses to see the UM games at the Orange Bowl but have not gone yet to the new stadium. I still believe that Ozzie was making a joke out of Castro and that it was blown out of proportion. If it was a politician elected in Miami, then that is different and he would be burned in effigy in Little Havana but just let Ozzie coach and bring us a World Series !!!

Posted by Sporteric11 on April 16, 2012 07:02 PM

Did the fans not show up in protest or because Ozzie was not there ??? So 6,500 did not show up or purchase tickets for the Astros and the Marlins did not exactly come out hot out of the gate. Miami has a poor economic climate right now so I believe the residents of Little Havana would rather buy food for their family then purchase baseball tickets. I enjoyed Joe Robbie Stadium because it was open and had plenty of parking and access. I would take buses to see the UM games at the Orange Bowl but have not gone yet to the new stadium. I still believe that Ozzie was making a joke out of Castro and that it was blown out of proportion. If it was a politician elected in Miami, then that is different and he would be burned in effigy in Little Havana but just let Ozzie coach and bring us a World Series !!!

Posted by Sporteric11 on April 16, 2012 07:57 PM

How 'bout guessing the date this year when Loria will be demanding kickbacks on the crooked deal for that boondoggle?

Posted by Paul W on April 16, 2012 11:31 PM

This article looks as though it was written by someone who was desperately hoping to see the Marlins going back to drawing 15,000 a game, and when that didn't materialize, they started to desperately grasp for straws.

"Okay, well, maybe they aren't drawing flies, but they've **only** drawn in excess of 30,000 four times....um....out of four....."

Posted by Fan on April 17, 2012 02:17 PM

Not selling out at least 90% of your seats during your stadium's first weekend is not so hot - the Twins did it, the Mets and Yanks did it, the Cards did it, the Phils and Padres did it. The only teams in the last ten years not to have managed this feat are the Reds (2003) and Nationals (2008), and neither of them have ever finished higher than 10th (out of 16) in the league in attendance since then.

All of which is to say that the Marlins' opening weekend attendance isn't a disaster, but it certainly doesn't portend them suddenly drawing three million fans a year. And even two million may be pushing it.

Posted by Neil deMause on April 17, 2012 02:31 PM

A couple of points:

First, Sunday's games attendance of 34,232 was over 90 percent of Marlins Parks' total capacity of 36,742 #93.1% to be exact#.

Secondly, let's take a look at the Mets' three home games that followed the 2009 opening day at Citi Field, and consider Citi Field's capacity of 41,800 at that time.

You'd see that those three games brought in crowds of 35,581 #85.1%#, 36,312 #86.9%# and 36,124 #86.4%#. None of those games brought in over 90% capacity.

As I said before, trying to bash the Marlins over what was in fact a very healthy turnout its first series is a desperate grasp for straws. I know people who dislike the fact the Marlins got a new stadium are probably hoping they'll see crowds of 15,000 so they can say, "I told you so!" but that's very unlikely to happen this year.

Posted by Fan on April 17, 2012 04:01 PM

Not to mention the fact that the average attendance in the first three games for the Mets was 86.1%, whereas the Marlins was 87.1%.

Posted by Fan on April 17, 2012 04:05 PM

The Mets opened during the week at night - I remember, because I was there for the second game. I can even post a photo of me and my family in our parkas, enjoying the gale-force winds off Flushing Bay.

I expect the Marlins will draw decently this year, if only because teams always do the first year in a new stadium. But if we're trying to project how they'll do the next couple of years based on the first few games (and yes, it's a crazy-small sample size), I'd say take the under.

Posted by Neil deMause on April 17, 2012 04:14 PM

And not to belabor the point **too** much, but in 2009 when Yankee Stadium opened, the three games following opening day:

45,167--89.8% out of total capacity of 50,287
45,101--89.7%
43,068--85.6%

Which, as you should know, also is less than 90% capacity.

Posted by Fan on April 17, 2012 04:14 PM

I could point out that the Yankees were failing to sell out $2000 box seats, not the nosebleeds, but point taken. I'll give the Marlins another week or two before I jump to any conclusions about their attendance.

Anyway, as I really should have noted in the original post, the bigger question here is whether a Florida baseball team can draw once it's summertime, since that's 1) as yet unproven, and 2) the whole reason Loria insisted on that expensive roof. So really I should have held off till July before commenting - but then I wouldn't have had any excuse to link to Grant Brisbee's spirit journey.

Posted by Neil deMause on April 17, 2012 05:10 PM

Aaaand... 24k for their first weeknight game. Versus the Cubs, normally a good road draw. Adios honeymoon. But to be fair, they were up against the NFL schedule unveiling show on ESPN.

Posted by Greg on April 18, 2012 01:08 AM

I just think its probably time to stop expecting attendance to be at the stratospheric levels of the mid-1990s and early 2000s. DC is full of sports-bloviation that a Steven Strasburg start drew "only" 16K on a weeknight in April against the pitiful Astros, so fans aren't "good enough" for pro baseball. Whatever.

If you look at historic figures, even drawing a million was a significant achievement not very long ago. The US is bigger now, but a lot has changed in baseball too.

1. Teams sell fewer tickets but often for much more money. A fan that may have gone to 3 games at $10 maybe only goes to one game at $30. Emphasis (often misplaced) is on premium seating and corporate customers.

2. Most teams now have their own cable deal for every game of the season. Bad for attendance, but since the teams have generally managed to institute a "cable TV tax for baseball" by charging nearly every cable subscriber for the channel whether they want it or not--teams are getting far more revenue for less work than actually marketing tickets to Cub Scout groups, etc. Look at the Votto deal with the Reds. Is this a "small market" team?

3. New stadiums have picked the low-hanging fruit. Building new stadiums in traditionally weak (and relatively poor) markets like Miami and Tamps is no guarantee of getting more fans, especially when the tickets become more expensive.

This isn't a moral test. To sit in the outfield for a Nationals game (and most other teams) costs on the high side of $20 most nights, and StubHub prices at the $1 level indicates that there are plenty of even unused sold tickets. $20 is a lot of money for most people to spend a casual night and using attendance as a indicator of interest (as opposed to, say, web page hits or cable TV ratings) is rather incomplete.

Posted by GDub on April 18, 2012 11:01 AM

I'm still in awe that they got that ugly monstrosity of a park built. Some people (Loria) really have no shame whatsoever.

Posted by Jerry on April 20, 2012 07:36 AM

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