The Marlins, whose attendance ranks last in the National League five weeks into the season, have decided to close the upper bowl at Marlins Park for at least some weeknight games — an approach the team used at times at Sun Life Stadium.
The upper bowl will be closed for six dates during the team’s nine-game homestand that begins next Tuesday. Fans can sit only in the lower bowl for games May 14-16 against Cincinnati and May 20-22 against Philadelphia. The upper bowl will remain open for May17-19 games against Arizona.
Marlins representative P.J. Loyello said the team has not decided whether to close the upper bowl for all Monday-through-Thursday home games, and decisions will be made before each homestand. About 10,000 of the stadium’s 37,442 seats are in the upper bowl.
Fewer than 500 people own season tickets in the upper bowl, and those fans are being moved — with no additional charge — to seats in the lower bowl for all Monday-through-Thursday games.
Upper bowl tickets to weeknight games will continue be sold on Marlins.com. Fans who buy single-game upper deck tickets will be moved to the lower bowl if the Marlins decide to close the upper bowl on those particular nights.
Closing the upper bowl for some games “will give an overall better fan experience,” Loyello said, adding from a standpoint of concessions, restrooms and other services, “it will be better for fans” than if they were scattered in a larger area.
The Marlins began this approach during their homestand that was completed last week. They did not close the upper deck for any home games last season, their first in Marlins Park.
The closing of the upper bowl for some games will mean fewer hours for some stadium employees, but none will lose their jobs, Loyello said.
The Marlins are averaging 18,864 fans per game, fourth-lowest in the majors and ahead of only Seattle, Kansas City and Cleveland. That number includes people who bought or received tickets, not those who actually show up.
The Marlins averaged 27,401 fans last season, but the team said an average of only about 17,000 attended each game.