Photo of Marlins Park from the outfield. Home of the Miami Marlins.     

Image Credit: CornFarmer - Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Fans that follow Major League Baseball with any regularity know that the Florida Marlins are typically at the bottom of the league in terms of attendance and as a result have a very small payroll. However, in just 17 short years they have collected two World Series titles including beating the mighty New York Yankees for the title in 2003.

Those two years, coincidentally, were the only two years that the Marlins had made the playoffs. Which means that the team is far from a Major League powerhouse.

2012 will be a year of change for the Marlins as they move into their own stadium, Marlins Park, after 18 years of sharing a home with the NFL's Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. They will also drop Florida from their name and further be known as the Miami Marlins.  Will this fresh start improve both the morale and image of the franchise? That question can be answered by examining the factors that have kept the club in the cellar of Major League Baseball.

Horrible Venue

Is Sun Life Stadium a terrible stadium? No. Is it a terrible stadium for baseball? Yes. There is no identity to this ballpark, no flavor, no originality. All of the stadium seats are orange, creating a clash with the color of the Marlins jerseys. Marlins fans have an ongoing campaign for the new venue to have teal seats.  I have also heard that the stadium is located in a not so nice area of Miami, but you hear that complaint quiet often about sports venues. Venues sometimes are purposely built in depressed areas to encourage the growth and development of the community.

The Weather and Climate

It is hot in Florida, everyone knows that and Miami is the southernmost major city of the United States. Sitting in high 90 temperatures to watch a small market baseball team is not very appealing, not even to a baseball fanatic like myself. Not to mention the fact that Miami is a major city for tourism. What would you rather do in Miami? Party, shop and dine at some of the finest locations in the country or go sit in Sun Life Stadium and watch the lowly Marlins? Not only do Miami residents have to deal with scorching temperatures but also heavy rainfall. Miami's wet season begins in May and ends in October (the entire baseball season) in which nearly 60 inches of rain will fall. Who would want to attend a game with frequent stoppages due to weather or spending money with the possibility of a game being rained out?

Lack of Big Names and Super Stars

Poor attendance means little sales and little revenue to spend on big names like Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. Fans are thus forced to watch a club full of players fresh out of Triple-A. Sure, these players might make a name for themselves on down the road but fans want to see names that they recognize. The numerous "Fire Sales" that the Marlins front office have had can be seen as the ultimate betrayal to Marlins fans. But if the Marlins organization had the money to spend, these sales would not be necessary.

The Inability to Compete in the National League East 

The Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and New York Mets can be strong at any given year. Facing these teams year in and year out is no easy task as all three can be considered as big market teams with plenty of money to spend. Do not forget that only one team from each division (excluding the WildCard) will advance to the postseason.

The Ballpark's construction costs are expected to be in the $515 Million range. The location of the new ballpark will be strategically located in the Little Havana section of Miami. I say strategic because nearly all of the residents of Little Havana are Hispanic and we all know how passionate Latinos are about baseball. The attendance will likely skyrocket due to the convenience of attending games in the neighborhood. Additionally, more businesses and shopping are projected to open in surrounding areas, further stimulating the growth of the Little Havana section.

Photo of the main entrance at Marlins Park. Home of the Miami Marlins.

Image Credit: Dan Lundberg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

An increase in attendance at Marlins home games means an increase in concessions and merchandise sales. More overall revenue will allow the Marlins to make more moves in the free agent market and not have to spend so much energy in developing and relying on their minor league talent.The new venue will feature many new sights and attractions that fans will love including two aquariums, a swimming pool, a retractable roof and a home run feature much like the Apple at Citi Field.

In conclusion, I doubt that the Marlins have a severe shortage of supporters, the fans just need more reasons to attend the games. A new name and new home maybe just what this team needs to make it's way back to October baseball. Either way, Marlins Park is a place I will be sure to visit and I hope you will too.


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