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Report: Marlins planned to lower ticket prices for 2018 season

New ownership wanted to attract fans to Marlins Park with a discount...but there’s much more to it. Welcome inside “Project Wolverine.”

The Miami Herald obtained an early version of Derek Jeter’s business plan.
Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images

The Miami Marlins approached 2017 with aspirations to contend, surrounding their exciting position player core with experienced bullpen depth. They raised payroll to an all-time franchise-high in the process. Meanwhile, the new ownership group—which officially took over following the mediocre regular season—is committed to a full-blown teardown of the major league roster. The 2018 Fish could potentially finish with the sport’s worst record.

Your bank account might feel the difference. As detailed in the August edition of Derek Jeter’s “Project Wolverine” business plan, the club expects to immediately turn a profit thanks to substantial ticket sales revenue, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. However, that factors in drawing more fans to the stadium than in years past, with the cost per paid ticket actually cheaper than what Jeffrey Loria’s administration charged.

On Tuesday evening, in the first installment of what figures to be a juicy five-part series, Jackson unveiled Jeter’s miscellaneous financial projections. They seek to prove to prospective investors how this group will succeed in areas where Loria could not.

Pull out your calculator for this key passage:

“The Marlins generated about $30 million in ticket revenue last season, but Wolverine projects increases to $37.5 million in 2018 and $40.6 million and $45.8 million the following two seasons.

“According to a source, even though the National League announced the Marlins’ attendance at 1.6 million last season, only 820,000 were paid tickets.

“Wolverine projects the paid figures to rise to 1.1 million, 1.2 million, 1.35 million, 1.5 million and 1.65 million over the next five seasons.

“The spring version of the document, since altered, projected a jump in overall attendance (paid and unpaid) to 24,235 in 2018 and 27,284 in 2019, a substantial jump from 20,395 in 2017.”

First, a quick disclaimer: we don’t know exactly what was “altered” in subsequent versions of Wolverine. Presumably, Jackson means that the attendance figures have been adjusted to be more realistic (with revenue lowered proportionally), though we cannot be certain.

Second, a small clarification. The Marlins averaged 20,395 fans in “home games” last year with a total of 1,651,997. However, that includes three dates which were relocated to Milwaukee in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma; the Brewers handled those ticket sales. Miami only hosted 78 regular season events, averaging 20,295 (1,583,014 total).

Aside from getting “last licks,” the Marlins didn’t feel like the home team in the Sept. 15-17 matchup at Miller Park.
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

So Wolverine anticipates boosting Marlins Park turnout by 3,940 per game next season, a 19.4 percent increase. That’s supposed to bring revenue from about $30 million to $37.5 million, a 25 percent increase. They project way more revenue per ticket because of the extra “paid” guests, up from 820,000 to 1.1 million (35.4 percent increase).

Let’s sum this up:

  • $30 million of last year’s revenue from 820,000 paid tickets = $36.59 per ticket
  • $37.5 million of next year’s revenue from 1.1 million paid tickets = $34.09 per ticket
  • An extra $2.50 for you to spe—well, that’s actually not enough to spend on anything in the ballpark, anyway. Still better than nothing!

(Fish Stripes asked Marlins ticket operations personnel to comment on any ticket prices changes from 2017 to 2018. As of Wednesday morning, they had not responded.)

Good news...for now.

The Herald knows what it’s doing. We don’t yet have the specifics about concession prices, promotions/giveaways, parking passes, in-stadium merchandise, etc. Some of that should be coming in the final four articles.

Also keep in mind, the average price for paid tickets is dropping because the Marlins plan to cut back drastically on complimentary seats. Those often went to corporate sponsors, but plenty of others reached the general public through kids initiatives and media sweepstakes. Won’t be quite as easy to get through the gate using those avenues moving forward.

Keep a tab open for Fish Stripes as we bring you additional analysis and commentary on this.