The Florida Marlins only fill 22.5% of the seats in Sun-Life Stadium, their home field.
During every home game, you can see the bright orange color of empty seats covering a vast majority of the stadium.
When popular teams, like the Yankees, Red Sox, or Phillies come to town, though, many of those seats are filled with fans, the other team’s fans. When these teams are not in town, the Marlins home games are nearly deserted, filling only an average of 17,032 seats per game in a stadium that can fit up to 75,540 fans.
This is all going to change very, very soon.
On April 4, 2012, against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Florida Marlins will open their new ballpark in Miami, Marlins Ballpark. This is going to be a stadium in the Little Havana Section of Miami. It will be owned by Miami-Dade County. The new ballpark will be where the Orange Bowl used to be, and it will have a retractable roof.
The new ballpark will fit 37,000 fans, and with many attractions within the stadium, the Marlins attendance may nearly double.
As Marlins security guard David Berger says, when asked if he thought the Marlins would get more attendance in the new stadium, “Of course they will, everybody knows that!”
This shows a sign of optimism in South Florida, but that is not all that Marlins fans have to be excited about.
Believe it or not, the team playing on the field may also turnaround.
With new manager Jack McKeon, who led them to the World Series in 2003, and star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, the Marlins seem to be in good hands. They also have all-star Gaby Sanchez, left fielder Logan Morrison, along with a blossoming rookie Mike Stanton.
During the Marlins slide earlier this season, their star, Hanley Ramirez was struggling. Since Jack McKeon became manager, though, Ramirez has also turned it around. He is batting .448 in July, and is starting to be himself again. Between him, Sanchez, Morrison, and Stanton, they have a lineup capable of leading the Marlins to the playoffs in 2012.
Let’s not forget about the pitching, though. Josh Johnson is one of the best, most underrated pitchers in the MLB. He is injured right now, which is a huge reason why the Marlins are struggling. In the games he played this year, he was 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA. Last year, with a full season under his belt, Johnson was second in the Majors with a 2.30 ERA, and 186 strikeouts. They also have promising starters, Ricky Nolasco, Annibal Sanchez, and Chris Volstad.
Next year, the Marlins will have a sense of renewed hope. Between a new stadium that could double their attendance, a promising lineup, promising pitchers, and an 80 year old manager who can work wonders, it may not be such a long wait for Marlins fans hoping to see their team back in the playoffs.
In South Florida, a near turnaround may not smell so fishy at all.
By Sam Brief