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July 27, 2012
Marlins' new stadium: Worst. Honeymoon. Ever.
You know, I was going to post a link to this photo of a Miami Marlins game with nobody at it, but then I thought: No, that's just mean. For all we know there was a massive traffic tie-up that day, and at all the other games the seats are filled.
The Miami Marlins' 2012 reinvention - new name, new uniforms, new ballpark, new players, and a very entertaining new manager - has the club on course to set a modern record.
A record for lowest attendance for the first year of a new ballpark in the 21st century.
Yes, that's right: The Marlins are averaging 28,560 ticket sales per game this year, good enough for 18th out of 30 MLB teams. That's far better than last year's 19,007 per game (28th out of 30), but still pretty dismal for the first year of a new ballpark, especially one where pre-season ticket sales should have been boosted by the signings of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell last winter. At their current pace, the Marlins will draw 2.2 million, which would be the worst showing for a team playing a full season in a new stadium since the 1982 Minnesota Twins.
Now, the Marlins have been pretty awful this year, so that's a small mitigating factor. However, the Detroit Tigers drew 30,000 per game to the first year of Comerica Park in 2000 despite a sub-.500 team, and the Astros managed 37,000 a game at then-Enron Field that same year while finishing 4th. And attendance never goes up in the second year of a new stadium, though as teams like the Tigers and Astros show, it can rebound a bit in later years if the team goes on a pennant run.
In short: It's too soon to declare that baseball is simply never going to draw well in south Florida. But the early signs sure aren't looking promising.