The Miami Marlins opened their new ballpark in April to much pomp and fanfare and cringe-inducing spectacle, and there were great hopes that the empty orange seats that had come to represent the very idea of baseball in South Florida would fast become but a memory. Funny thing about that! The team, despite its high-profile signings, still couldn't win games and fans still didn't want to schlep out to the $600 million stadium, which was mostly paid for with taxpayer funds.
While the Marlins will total more than two million in home attendance for only the third time in franchise history, the grand sum after the season finale on Wednesday will represent the lowest figure of any of the 11 major league ballparks that have opened since 2001.
Sources say that, based on internal projections by Marlins officials before the season, final attendance will fall short of expectations by about 500,000 fans.
"We were just never able to get any momentum on the field, and that impacted attendance," said Marlins President David Samson.
"I can't say that we were very surprised. We thought our honeymoon was going to last five innings. We thought the team would be competitive. Clearly we were wrong about that."
For years, Marlins officials used the "build it and they will come" mantra in their pitch for public funding to build a new climate-controlled ballpark with a retractable roof. But after a robust inaugural on April 4, large sections of empty seats became the norm.
The Marlins failed to sell out once in their three-game series in June against the Boston Red Sox, a marquee team that usually packs them in.
After the underachieving Marlins went into a swoon in June and July, six of the 25 players on the Opening Day roster were sent packing in trades and the Marlins went into a tailspin that landed them at the bottom of the standings.
Well, in hindsight, banking on the Red Sox being this season's biggest draw wasn't perhaps the smartest idea, either. And yet, what's the first thing the team may do, now that this season has mercifully concluded? Fire Ozzie Guillen, thereby ridding itself of the only compelling reason to watch the Marlins. Smart baseball, you guys.
Marlins Park attendance suffers amid team's failure [Miami Herald]