The Miami Marlins, who couldn’t draw flies if you covered them in honey, just played the most sparsely attended Major League Baseball game open to the public (the game the White Sox and Orioles played in front of an empty Camden Yards in 2015 doesn’t count) in 28 years.
One thousand, five hundred and ninety fans — 1,590 — made the trip to Marlins Park to see the 20-30 Marlins take on the 17-33 Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday afternoon, according to Steve Wine of the Associated Press:
— Steve Wine (@Steve_Wine) May 31, 2017
The last time (again, not counting the game that got cordoned off due to the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore) this few people went to a big-league ballgame was Sept. 5, 1989, when the Atlanta Braves, stuck at 55-83, lost to the San Diego Padres 7-5 at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta.
The Marlins have long suffered from attendance problems. The team has drawn 20,970 fans per game this year, 27th out of the 30 MLB teams, and that’s actually up by about 1,000 fans from last year. Of course, Wednesday’s game hasn’t been formally added to the data set yet, so that will drop the average, but the point is that Miami is what you get when you play a ballgame and nobody shows up to watch it.
The smattering of people in attendance looked more like the way a more popular team’s stadium appears when families with children show up super-early to watch batting practice while the rest of the crowd waits for the game to start.
— Miguel Novoa (@MiguelNovoa) May 31, 2017
What’s crazier still is that the Marlins aren’t even the worst-drawing team in their own state; that would be the MLB-worst Tampa Bay Rays, who draw 14,719 fans a game.
That’s still a fair piece better than any of the teams in Minor League Baseball, where the Charlotte Knights are tops with 8,974 a game; the difference is that the Knights play in a stadium that holds 10,200 rather than the 36,742 who can sit in Marlins Park or the 42,735 who could fill Tropicana Field if anyone had any desire to actually go.
Some observers have grumbled that MLB should just move the Marlins to Montreal and rename them the Expos. Considering the Expos were drawing 10,000 fans a year toward the end and never drew more than 23,000 after 1983, let’s keep some perspective here.
The bigger problem was a fourth-place team that nobody cares about playing a fifth-place team on a Wednesday afternoon in May. Anyone who wasn’t working a day job or sleeping for a night job had better things to do than go to a baseball game, especially in Miami.
Whoever ends up buying this dumpster fire will have their hands full. There just aren’t any plausible markets into which to move that don’t already have teams.
One thing’s for sure: Plenty of good seats are still available.
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