Hey, it’s progress. Friday night’s announced attendance of 12,409 fans at LoanDepot Park bumped the 2023 season total to 918,506 through 65 Miami Marlins home games. With more than a month remaining in the MLB regular season, the Marlins have already exceeded last year’s total and established a new single-season record for the Bruce Sherman ownership era.
The 2022 club drew an average crowd of 11,204 for their 81 home games. That was the second-lowest turnout among MLB teams, ahead of only the Oakland Athletics. Miami’s non-competitiveness didn’t help—the Fish were below the .500 mark from early May onward and ultimately finished 18 games out of a playoff spot.
In 2023, they’ve spent most of the season in the hunt for an October berth, entering Friday only two games out of the third National League Wild Card spot. Their average announced attendance has been 14,131. If the Marlins maintain that pace and play all 16 of their upcoming home games as scheduled, they’ll total 1,144,600 fans.
Context is crucial, though. Major League Baseball as a whole has seen a 9% increase in year-to-year attendance. Possible factors contributing to that include altering the pace of games via the pitch clock, getting another year further away from the COVID pandemic and implementing rule changes that disincentivize “tanking” among rebuilding teams. Also, LoanDepot Park’s best-attended 2023 series has come against the New York Yankees, a high-profile opponent that wasn’t on their 2022 schedule (and won’t be coming to Miami in 2024). Just like last season, the Marlins rank 29th in fans per game, only ahead of the embarrassing A’s. They’re 2,386 per game behind the 28th-place Kansas City Royals.
When Glenn Geffner surveyed his View from the Bleachers audience in June, the most common complaint from Marlins fans was the inconvenient location of LoanDepot Park—that’s not changing anytime soon. The second-biggest issue they cited was the quality of the roster. If the Marlins sneak into the postseason or merely finish at .500, it’s reasonable to expect a rise in season ticket-holders for next year. At least the cost to attend is reasonable: the Marlins’ average ticket price of $22.98 is the cheapest in MLB, according to Team Marketing Report. That’s the first time they’ve ever held that distinction, per Mike Ozanian of Forbes.
So yeah, the Marlins have taken a step in the right direction, but three decades into the franchise’s existence and more than a decade since moving into their own ballpark, attendance is still an issue that’s hampering local revenue relative to their MLB competition and demonstrating the indifference most of South Florida feels toward them.
Photo by Danis Sosa/Fish On First