As part of an effort to boost attendance next season, the Miami Marlins will experiment with earlier start times for select games during school season.
Attendance woes continue for the Marlins this season, as the club ranks last among 30 Major League Baseball teams with an average of just over 10,000 fans per-game. The ownership group led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter is looking at some ways it can boost the team’s numbers next season, and one step will involve an earlier start time for Monday-Thursday home night games in the months of April, May, and September.
Traditionally the Marlins have scheduled a 7:10 first pitch for those games, but that time will move up to 6:40 starting in 2020. The organization hopes that the move will make it easier for families, as well as fans that want to come to the game straight from work or who prefer earlier start times, to attend games. More from the Sun-Sentinel:
The decision seems to be an appeal toward attracting younger fans to the ballpark. The three months coincide with the school schedule for kids. Speaking with reporters, Marlins CEO Derek Jeter elaborated on the move, citing a willingness to be open to change.
“I think it’s consistent with what we’re done since last season — listening to our fan base,” Jeter said. “We wanted to make sure that we accommodate to some of those fans that said they’d like to come straight from work to the ballpark and some said that said they’d like to get here a little bit earlier.
“There’s been a few teams in Major League Baseball who have done the same thing. We’re going to test it out and see how it is, but it all comes from feedback.”
The New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds are among a number of MLB teams who have begun using earlier weekday start times. Between work and school, attracting fans to Marlins Park for weekday games has been especially difficult. In April and May, Miami averaged 7,324 during 13 games from Monday-Thursday.
The Marlins attendance was traditionally among the lowest in MLB under previous owner Jeffry Loria. Since completing its purchase of the team in the fall of 2017, the Jeter-Sherman-led ownership has undertaken an on-field rebuilding process that has involved trading away several notable players. The Marlins enter today’s action with a record of 45-75, last in the National League East. Prior to this season, the Marlins did work to improve the fan amenities at Marlins Park with several upgrades, including new social spaces and revamped concessions offerings.