The meltdown of the Miami Marlins continues, as the team announces it will close the upper bowl for select weekday games.
This act is pretty extreme when you consider Marlins Park is only a year old. The team should still be attracting fans with that new-ballpark shine, but instead fans are staying away, thanks to what’s arguably the most dysfunctional front office in baseball. Really, we’re at the point where Bud Selig needs to address the situation. Even when the team does something right, it gets flamed: don’t look now, but the Toronto Blue Jays are a very disappointing 13-22 record after giving up a lot for stars like Jose Reyes (who played in only 10 games before going on the 60-day disabled list), Mark Buehle (1-2, 7.02 ERA) and Josh Johnson (0-1, 6.86 ERA; now on the 15-day disabled list). You could argue that shedding payroll and gaining prospects was a good business move for the Fish.
But it was the wrong move, given the timing. By making the trade — and now closing off the upper deck — the Marlins are telling fans that the front office has given up, that Jeffrey Loria and crew are reverting back to bad habits first exhibited in Montreal and then displayed at Sun Life Stadium. Sure, come by and buy a Cuban sandwich in what most consider to be a good ballpark, but we don’t care about the product on the field or the fans in the stands.
This comes at a time when the ballpark isn’t seen as a major economic driver in the city: small crowds means less foot traffic in Little Havana, which means the retailers envisioned to move into the area are having second thoughts about renting space in the storefronts facing the ballpark. That’s a loss both for the community and for the small businesses working to eke out a profit.
Interestingly, the Marlins do not rank last in MLB attendance this season at 18,864 fans per game: Seattle (18,751), Kansas City (18,497) and Cleveland (14,205) all trail the Fish. But while there are some reasons for optimism in all three cities — both the Royals and Indians are above .500, while the Mariners are improved over last season — there’s no reason for baseball fans to be optimistic in Miami.
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