With another month under the Miami Marlins‘ belt, the team continues to reap the benefits of the new domed stadium, and other off season improvements, with the most improved attendance in Major League Baseball compared to 2011. Average attendance has faded a bit in the month of May, strangely coinciding with the Marlins setting a record for wins in a month.
Even so, Miami is averaging 28,543 fans per game in 2012 through 26 home games – a number that puts the Marlins at #15 in per-game attendance in the Majors. Miami will never touch the numbers of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cardinals, but compared to last season’s dead last average attendance of 17,180, the improvement is fantastic. The Marlins’ increase in attendance over 2011 is 11,363, outdistancing the Detroit Tigers’ improvement of 9,109.
Though it shouldn’t really surprise anybody that the new stadium has helped boost attendance, many will be keeping their eyes on the numbers throughout the season to see if the team is able to turn some of the newer fans into regulars, and build upon the team’s success on the field in May.
At their current pace, the Marlins would hit approximately 2.31 million fans in attendance this season. Only twice in team history has Miami drawn more than that total – the inaugural season in 1993, and the 1997 World Series championship team. Even 2003’s World Series championship team drew a dismal 1.3 million for the season, ranking only ahead of the Montreal Expos (who moved two seasons later to Washington, and became the Nationals).
Marlins management probably had dreams of getting to at least 2.5 million, but the improvement so far has made Miami much more watchable to fans outside Marlins fandom. No longer are fans tuning in to a Marlins home game to see a sea of empty orange seats in a football stadium.
The ESPN Sports Center jokes are gone – for now, at least. Management did state before the season that they hoped fans would come to the new ballpark, have a great time, tell their friends, and come again later in the season
If the team continues to win, and Giancarlo Stanton continues to provide plenty of offensive bluster, fans should continue to flock to Marlins Park. Being in contention in September to win the division or have a shot at the wild card would be a big boost. Might not hurt that the Miami Heat wouldn’t be in the middle of a playoff run in September, too.
Attendance the last 10 games has averaged a little over 26,500, boosted considerably by a 4-game series with the San Francisco Giants. The June outlook should be good, with the Red Sox, Cardinals, Braves, and Phillies all visiting Marlins Park this month.