The Miami Marlins didn’t take on the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday in an empty stadium, but they came close. According to Associated Press reporter Steve Wine, just 1,590 fans came to the afternoon game at Marlins Park.
The Miami Herald’s Marlins beat writer also noted the small crowd.
According to the Score, excluding a 2015 game the Baltimore Orioles hosted the Chicago White Sox, which was played behind closed doors because of citywide riots, Wednesday’s matinee was the least-attended MLB game since Sept. 5, 1989. In that case, 1,528 fans showed watched the San Diego Padres beat the Atlanta Braves, 7-5, at the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
The Marlins long have struggled with attendance, even after the team unveiled its new stadium in 2012, which features a retractable roof to keep fans and players cool during Miami’s tropical summer.
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The roof was closed for the game Wednesday because of high heat and humidity, which means the weather wasn’t to blame for the poor fan showing.
Miami’s WPLG-TV sports producer David Lang, who was not at Wednesday’s game but who remembers being in the stands for another infamously poorly attended game in 2001 during which then-owner John Henry invited him and his friends down to the watch the game from behind the dugout, blames the time of day, the time of year and the team’s poor record this season.
“I do think South Florida sports fans get a bad rap,” he told The Washington Post, noting that had school year already ended the crowds would’ve been larger. He said also said had the Marlins, who sit in fourth place in the National League East, been playing a better team than the Phillies, who sit in fifth place in the NL East, attendance would’ve likely been higher.
While that may be true, the Marlins have had an attendance problem for years that can’t just be blamed on circumstance.
Since the team’s inception in 1993, it has never finished the season ranked higher than 26th out of 30 MLB teams regarding average attendance. That peak came last year, when an average of 21,405 fans came to each game. This year, the team is in 28th place in home-game attendance, according to ESPN, averaging 20,970 fans per game. Only the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays have lower attendance figures this season.