Over at fellow Miami Marlins blog Marlin Maniac, Placido Estevez pointed out that the Miami Marlins do not have the worst attendance in the league. As we speak there are actually three teams, the Indians, A's and Ray's that have a lower average attendance than the Miami Marlins. This is rather surprising considering the well-documented attendance struggles of South Florida baseball and the fallout of the recent fire sale. Many expected the worse, many still believe the Marlins to be at the bottom, but that is not where they reside. Here are a few possible reasons why the Miami Marlins are not the bottom.
Marlins Park debuted in 2012 and is the newest ballpark in the league. Fans of baseball in general could still be traveling to get a glimpse of the park for themselves. Fans from the area could still be finding it worth it to go to a game just to check out the relatively new home of the Marlins and the Monstrosity that inhabits center field. Fans are still going to Marlins games to see the Marlins facilities and that is what is pushing them above other low-attendance teams.
The Miami Marlins have made it no secret that they were desperate to sell tickets. Groupon deals and BOGO tickets will not make a fan love a team. What they will do, however, is get a fan in the door. All these discounted or free tickets impact attendance figures; not as much as winning baseball games would, but they matter. Discounting tickets will help attendance, but when you get down to operating income and net sales, the numbers that really matter to the Miami Marlins, they'll find that they really were not making much more money. The Marlins might be trading actual income for glamorous attendance points and the Marlins will come out behind on the income statement instead.
Since the start of the season the Miami Marlins have called up three exciting young players that no one really thought would impact the 2013 version of the Marlins until the season actually started. Pitcher Jose Fernandez, outfielder Marcell Ozuna and infielder Derek Dietrich all figure to have an impact on the future of the Miami Marlins, and figure to be upgrades over the stopgap sort of players fans could be watching instead. Some fans are coming out to see these young, talented players play baseball and that separates the Marlins from the very bottom of the pack.
I am of the belief that the Marlins are influenced by all three of the previously mentioned explanations for the Marlins' higher than expected attendance. Small amounts of fans are coming to the park to either see the park or to see the exciting talent. Plus, various promotions make it a more affordable night out and thus the Marlins rank ahead of a few teams in attendance. Though to be fair, the Marlins' average attendance of 18,864 is not much better than the 18,590 or 18,292 seen per game seen by the A's and Rays respectively. The Marlins do have significantly more fans at games than the Indians at 14,614, but it is possible that Cleveland's harsh weather conditions have impacted attendance with nine days in the month having high temperatures in the 40's or lower.
What is interesting to note is that the Miami Marlins are the only one of the four teams to be particularly bad at baseball in recent times (including now). So it is possible that more fans come out to Indians, or Rays or A's games before the season is done. Whereas the Marlins might experience a loss in interest as they are mathematically eliminated before the playoff chase really even starts.