One night after the Marlins drew the lowest number of fans for a regularly-scheduled game this decade they drew even fewer: 6,516 souls, the lowest attendance figure since they moved into their current park six years ago.
Which is not to say that it’s the lowest number of fans they’ve hosted in the past. Everyone likely knows that, in Major League Baseball, attendance is based on the number of tickets sold per game, not on the number of actual butts in seats. The Marlins have played host to far fewer in the past and, when bad weather comes around, you can count the number of fans at a lot of ballparks in the triple digits. On Monday, for example, the White Sox and Rays played host to just over 900 people, even if the paid attendance was over 10,000. Not that I’d blame anyone for staying home, for reasons more eloquently stated by others:
The Marlins attendance figures may read higher than butts-in-seats, but they’re lower than usual for another technical reason: they’re counting tickets sold differently this year than they have in the past. From the Sun-Sentinel:
A team spokesman said prior to Opening Day that crowd counts would reflect tickets actually sold, and would not include giveaways or tickets deeply discounted. Attendance under previous ownership was also reported as tickets sold. A wide disparity between the announced figure and fans in the stands was often evident.
It’s not at all shocking that Jeff Loria, who possesses no small amount of ego, would try to inflate attendance figures by including giveaway tickets which is not common practice in the majors.* The Miami Herald reported a couple of weeks ago that if this year’s attendance-counting methods were used last year, the Marlins would be dead last in attendance at just over 800,000, well behind the Tampa Bay Rays. With the new system in place — and with a team stripped of its stars due to new ownership’s austerity measures — that figure is likely to be lower and it’s an utter certainty that the club will be 30th in gate once again.
We slam the Marlins a lot around here and, to be clear, the fact that they’ve put such a bad product on the field that fans are so loathe to see it is not something for which they should be praised. The significance of the super low attendance figures, however, should not be overstated as they represent the club’s decision to be more honest about ticket sales than the last regime was. Honesty doesn’t pay the bills, but it should count for something, right?
*UPDATE: An earlier version of this article said that the Marlins were unique in using Groupon to sell ticket packages. I was working off of old or, possibly, mistaken information when I wrote that. In reality, Groupon worked with 14 major league clubs last year and sold over 121,000 tickets via the service.