The business of sports is fascinating. Sports has become more like the entertainment industry now more than ever before. Media stars want to be athletes, athletes want to be media stars. Money and finances are a huge part of both industries. Last week the new Avengers movie grossed $201M in the first weekend! It’s an astounding number. The Yankees always lead MLB in payroll; just another astounding figure. Spending big dollars and winning is usually a good recipe for success, but of course we’ve seen big budget movies flop miserably, and big time free agents prove a bust. The Miami Marlins have always been cognizant of dollars and have adapted to Billy Beane’s Moneyball system with fervor. They’ve suffered ridicule at times, but for the most part have stuck to their guns until they moved into their new park. Even now, the Marlins are middle-of-the-pack spenders. They will never spend like the Yanks or Red Sox. The market simply won’t support that kind of spending.
The big controversy was why would you a build a park for a team with a small fan base that doesn’t go to games? That’s a naive and ridiculous statement. The new ballpark has enabled the new free agent signings and made the Marlins relevant. Not to mention the Marlins brass perhaps tripled the value of their franchise. It should be no surprise that people are showing up in year one. Moving forward time will tell if it’s sustainable, but from a pure business point of view, the new park is gold. The Marlins Store has larger numbers of people walking through it than the number of fans who showed up at games at Sun Life Stadium. In the end, MLB teams would like to see bums in seats, but more important than those bums, is concession and merchandise sales; that’s the cash cow, along with the TV deals of course. Let’s not forget the parking. What a goldmine. Especially in a place like Miami where space is at a premium, unlike the vacuous never-ending property that surrounded Sun Life. A big reason why teams like the Marlins are willing to sell tickets for $10 is because they know what’s going to happen once that $10 ticket walks through the turnstiles.