Well, what do you know? It turns out Jeffrey Loria and David Samson were lying when they said the Marlins needed a new ballpark to draw. Maybe they need a new owner.
Announced attendance at last night's game, an 8-0 shellacking by the Braves, was 13,810. (This number is probably also a lie.) The night before saw 14,222 turn up at Marlins Park, a $634 million stadium that was more than 80 percent paid for with public money. This despite free food, two-for-one tickets, and literally everything else the Marlins can think of to goose attendance. And it's not that the honeymoon's over—2012 saw the lowest attendance for a ballpark's first season in more than 30 years.
The team itself is terrible, of course. In Miami, where baseball isn't and will never be self-sufficient, the only way to make money is not to spend it. With baseball's second lowest payroll, the Marlins are off to a 1-8 start, and have been shut out four times already.
But save your sympathy for someone who deserves it. Loria and Samson pulled off the stadium heist to perfection, threatening to move the team, promising a South Florida baseball revival, convincing ignorant local politicians that they didn't have the money to build a new ballpark themselves. (It later emerged that the Marlins turned a $50 million profit in 2008 and 2009.)
Loria got what he wants already. The stadium, by some estimates, doubles the value of the Marlins franchise, and rumors that Loria will unload the team are swirling. Knowing that, local politicians attempted to include penalties for selling the team in the stadium bill. Their long-term guarantee? It lasts through 2014.
These ever forward-thinking politicians should have worried more about how the city and county will still be paying for this ballpark in 35 years.
This, then, is how you build a stadium meant to stay empty. Build it in a town that will never love baseball. Antagonize the casual fans by sticking them with the cost of a ballpark they never wanted. Alienate the diehards by fire-saling the team, and kick out anyone who complains.
Never in my life have I been happier to post empty stadium porn. From the past two nights of Marlins Park: