In 2019, a grand total of 6,776 home runs were hit during the Major League Baseball season, an astounding 671 more than the previous record set in 2017. Fifteen teams in MLB broke their all-time franchise for dingers, including the Minnesota Twins, who hit 82 more than they ever had before. With new rules in place meant to hinder lollygagging and delays, the speed of the game increased as well.
All in all, 2019 was one of the most exciting years to be a baseball fan in recent memory. Unfortunately, fewer fans were there to see it. According to the New York Times, total attendance across 2,429 regular-season MLB games dropped by about a million fans in 2019, to 68.5 million. And your hometown Miami Marlins came in dead last in league attendance: An average of just over 10,000 fans a night showed up to watch a rebuilding team that lost more than 100 games. That number wasn't just last, but hella last: the Marlins had 4,000 fewer attendees than the next-to-last Tampa Bay Rays.
The Times spoke with a variety of teams across MLB that are fully aware that attendance will be an ongoing issue and are trying to think outside the box to fix the problem. Teams have already begun to issue "ballpark passes" that, like a Netflix subscription, give fans unlimited standing-room-only admission to games.
For the Marlins' sake, they are trying something called a "ticket bank," which even the team's execs think could backfire. But they're giving it a whirl anyway while the product on the field is under construction. Per the Times:
The Miami Marlins, who attract the smallest average crowd in baseball, are trying to woo fans with a host of new ticketing options. They include a "ticket bank" in which fans buy credits at a discount before the season that they can use to purchase tickets during it. But with dozens of ticket types, the Marlins risk angering fans who later notice they could have purchased their tickets for cheaper.
The hope is fans don't "second-guess themselves on their next purchase as to whether this is the right place, right location, right time," said Adam Jones, the Marlins' chief revenue officer.
Most of the new innovations in ticketing are geared toward 20-something fans who didn't exactly grow up with baseball being must-see stuff — especially in Miami, where baseball has had a stench around it due to the Jeffrey Loria/David Samson years. Teams are also trying to combat rising concession prices, something the Marlins have shown to be aware of with their "3-0-5" menu, which has offered basic ballpark food and beverages at affordable prices.
Locally, it'll take a lot more than cheap Bud Light and chicken tenders to put asses in seats come first pitch at Marlins Park. The team needs to win, win often, and win for a long time to build back equity with a fan base that has lost trust and interest. If the Marlins' rebuilding project under Derek Jeter — one that has seen their farm system skyrocket from nearly last to among the best in the game — continues on the upward trend, the Fish shouldn't find themselves at the bottom of this list in the future.
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