The raison d'être for Marlins Park was to have a facility where fans could experience baseball without suffering torrential downpours or sweltering Heat. While the retractable dome did provide the fans who came in 2012 with a relatively comfy experience, I propose that it was the Heat that kept a lot of fans away, at least through the first two months of the season. I'm not referring to the kind of heat that makes the mercury rise on the thermometer but rather the kind of Heat that plays and wins in the National Basketball Association.
At the beginning of the season I remember having the distinct impression that a disproportionate number of Marlins home games were being played on days/nights where the Heat were playing, mostly at home. In thinking about the Marlins, their poor attendance and the effect it may have had on team revenues I decided to investigate a little deeper into what I had perceived.
As it turns out, Opening Night was a foreshadowing of things to come. On April 4th as the first pitch at Marlins Park was thrown, the Heat were about to take on their eventual NBA Finals opponent, Oklahoma City at the American Airlines Arena, less than three miles away.
Between the Marlins Home Opener and June 12th the Fish played 34 home games. 17 of those dates coincided with Heat games. Of those 17 Heat games, 14 were home games. That means the franchises competed head to head not only for attention but also for attendance and the corresponding dollars an astounding 41% of the time during that stretch. Not only that, of the 17 occasions on which the Heat had a game on a Marlins home date, 12 of the Heat games were playoff games. And of the 12 Heat playoff games, 9 of them were at home. During the period of time where Marlins Park was at its shiniest and newest, more than a quarter of their home dates were in direct competition with playoff games for the eventual NBA Champion.
I simply don't think anyone in the Marlins organization could have envisioned such an overlap in game dates. Remember that the NBA schedule was a compressed one, not drawn up far in advance of the season because of a labor-related work stoppage. This is what I would characterize as extremely bad luck.
Looking at what's left of the Heat's regular season schedule, the trend continues in 2013. 6 of the first 9 Marlins home dates coincide with Heat games, 4 of which will be at home. Luckily however the Marlins will at least have the stage to themselves on Opening Night. But the Heat are expected to again go deep into the playoffs, if not all the way to finals.
Given everything else that this franchise is facing, this is just one more negative variable to through into the equation.