Miami Marlins finish season strong on attendance, but still close to Sun Life levels

Attendance for games was down as much as 39 percent in late June, but the average tally in Marlins Park was stronger than at Sun Life Stadium.

09/30/2013 12:01 AM

09/30/2013 8:05 PM

As a rough season at Marlins Park comes to a close, the team finds itself drawing about 1,000 more fans than it had at Sun Life Stadium.

Despite closing the season with some of the best turnouts of the year, Marlins Park is ending 2013 with an average attendance of 19,584 spectators per game, according to baseball-reference.com. That’s compared with an average of 27,500 for its debut season last year and 18,500 during the team’s final three years at Sun Life.

With one of the worst records in baseball, the weak attendance might not register as much of a surprise. But new ballparks tend to have a more enduring novelty effect. With its 28.5 percent drop from 2012, Marlins Park will finish the year with one of the worst declines in attendance for a new stadium since at least the 1980s, according to the baseball-reference.com data.

In the first half of the season, it looked like Marlins Park might have the worst drop-off, since its attendance decline was sharper than the current holder of the title, Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field.

The Tampa Bay park saw attendance drop 30 percent between its 1998 debut and the 1999 season, according to the game-by-game tally available on baseball-reference.com. But in the end, Marlins Park looks set to best not only Tampa, but also the 31 percent drop suffered by the new Texas stadium in 1995 and the 30 percent decline suffered in the second year of Milwaukee’s new ballpark in 2002.

At its worse, Marlins Park saw attendance for the 2013 season down 39 percent in late June. But the average tally began climbing in July. By the first week in September, Miami’s attendance drop was smaller than Tampa’s and the standings did not change for the rest of the season. (The gap may be even wider, as the Tampa Bay Rays’ internal statistics show a 38 percent attendance decline between 1998 and 1999, a team spokesman said.)

Tampa and Miami also vied for the worst attendance in Major League Baseball this year. Miami bested Tampa on that, too, ending up one slot from the bottom, according to figures posted on espn.com. Despite the weak average, the final weekend in Marlins Park’s sophomore season posted impressive numbers. On Saturday, the 10th-inning win over Detroit drew an announced crowd of 28,750, the biggest of the year since Opening Day. The turnout for Sunday’s no-hitter finale was 28,315, the third best since the first game.

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