The Miami Marlins, attendance problems, and affordability

Marc Serota

The Miami Marlins have bad attendance and a bad 1-8 record in 2013. The Marlins have tried to compensate with affordable pricing, but that can only go so far.

The 2013 Miami Marlins have an attendance problem. After three Marlins home games, there is nothing to indicate that the Miami Marlins will have an attendance total that will be considered anything better than "very bad". Over the first three home games of the season the Marlins had 62,471 fans show up to games, an average of 20,823 fans per game.

Fans are justified in not going to Marlins games this year. Aside from Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, fans have few reasons to go to games, and Jose Fernandez has literally only pitched five major league innings. Only a true diehard fan would venture to multiple Marlin games this season to see the Marlins play. Casual fans and fans of visiting teams are whom the Marlins need to attract. Fans of visiting teams are automatically going to go when their team is in town, so really the Marlins need to focus their efforts on the casual fans.

Focusing their efforts on casual baseball fans is exactly what the Marlins have done in 2013. The Miami Marlins promotion schedule made cheap tickets and group rates the name of the game. On Thursdays anyone over the age of 55 can attend a Marlins game for free, and in the "best available" section. Others can get discounts on tickets by visiting sponsors like Subway and Chevron to get the proper coupon for cheaper seating. Ticket packages have been sold on Groupon and opening night meant BOGO tickets to any game later in the season.

The Marlins are just trying to fill up the seats the best they can. Obviously if something is cheaper, customers are more likely to buy it. Yeah, free tickets are a pretty pathetic way to get fannies in the seats. Unfortunately, promotions are a temporary way to inflate attendance. For now, fans will go to games and get their friends to go with them and they will buy food and pay for parking and the Marlins will make money.

The key to that sentence is "for now." Eventually fans that get into the stadium for $8 or pay for a group package on Groupon will get disgruntled if the Marlins show that they are not a competitive team worth someone's time and entertainment money. Right now I would say that after being shutout four times in nine games and winning only one of nine the Marlins are well on their way to losing support.

The Miami Marlins are, most likely, going to win more than the 18 games they are currently on pace for. Statistically it would be absurd if they did not win more games. The Marlins will win more games. When they do, fans might start to come back to the team and the Marlins might be worth more than the price of parking and ballpark concessions to fans.

For now, that is not the case. Affordability is the name of the game for the Marlins, and it always should be a part of what the Marlins (or any sports franchise) should be. Right now, affordability is the only thing the Fish have to offer to the casual fan. Affordability is the only thing the Marlins can promise, and until the Marlins win some games or show effort with a larger payroll they should not be expected to offer anything more. If this series has been any indication, affordability is not what sells out stadiums, affordability is just something that goes along with poor performance.

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