Chip Bowers went from the penthouse to the cellar when he switched jobs, giving up his executive position with the NBA’s gilded Golden State Warriors to join Derek
Jeter’s Miami Marlins.
He’s not complaining.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Bowers said. “Except for last place.”
Which is where the Marlins currently reside, both in the won-loss standings and home attendance.
Bowers can’t make any promises about the on-field product. But he’s doing what he can to breathe life into a stagnant franchise that suffers from poor crowds and a negative perception.
“I had a great run there and I was ready for another challenge,” Bowers said of his decision to leave the Warriors and become president of business operations for the Marlins. “I’m ready for a new challenge. I want to build something else.”
Bowers is in San Diego for the Marlins series with the Padres, not to check out what’s taking place on the field, but what’s going on behind the scenes at Petco Park.
He and several other top executives on the Marlins’ business side are on a scouting mission, touring the facility and collecting ideas they could apply toward improving the fan experience at Marlins Park.
“I think the ballpark is a great ballpark,” Bowers said of Marlins Park. “But we haven’t really made any real capital investments in that ballpark in the last seven years.”
Bowers noted that Petco Park, which opened 14 years ago, is designed in a way to feel southern California, with local food and beverage concessionaires that are familiar to those living in the area. He also pointed out the landscaping and architecture that give Petco a San Diego kind of vibe.
He would like to do the same at Marlins Park.
“I think that’s where probably we aren’t doing enough at Marlins Park,” Bowers said. “How do we create a similar experience that we see in and around the Miami community? Make that part of the Marlins Park experience, so it’s a destination like all the other great places in Miami.”
Of course, the goal is attracting fans. The Marlins are averaging just over 10,000 fans per game in a ballpark that seats 37,000.
“How do we continue to create the right experience for our fans, day in and day out?” Bowers asked. “That can’t be a seasonal exercise every two or three years. It’s something every single day we need to be talking about as an organization, what matters to our fan base, and I don’t know what we’ve done that.”
Many of the changes will take time to incorporate. Bowers said it could be next season before fans notice any significant change to the ballpark experience.
But Bowers said he and his team are working to make improvements. They’ve been in touch with city and county leaders to ease traffic congestion into and out of the ballpark. They’re looking at the Brightline rail system as a means to bring fans in from Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Bowers said he’ll be checking out other ballparks this summer “that have great reputations, and to see how they do it in a way that’s authentic and reflective of those cities.”
Bowers isn’t looking back at the Warriors, who are bidding for another NBA title. He’s looking ahead with the Marlins.
“We’re turning over every rock possible to improve the experience,” Bowers said. “Everything we do has to be impactful moving forward. We’re not out here to swing and miss. So we’re going to pick our pitches and we’re going to swing for the fence.”
Manager Don Mattingly continues to defend struggling rookie Lewis Brinson, even though the outfielder is hitting just .157 and made two errors in the Marlins’ 9-5 loss to the Padres on Tuesday.
Both mistakes led directly to Padres runs.
Asked about his patience level with Brinson, Mattingly said: “I’m not going to measure it every day. We talk about it all the time internally. It’s not something I’m going to sit here and tell you exactly what we’re thinking. Whatever we do, it’s going to be what we think is best for Lewis and his development.”
Brinson was back in the lineup on Wednesday.
Riddle rounds the bases
JT Riddle would have been content with a single, his first hit since coming off the disabled list last week after an 0-for-11 start. But when his line shot skipped past Padres center fielder Manuel Margot and rolled to the wall, Riddle went into high gear and circled the bases for an inside-the-park homer.
“I had pretty fresh legs,” Riddle joked. “I haven’t been on base.”
Riddle beat the throw easily. It was the 19th inside-the-park home run in Marlins history, and first since J.T. Realmuto did it last August.
“I didn’t really feel too gassed until I got to the dugout,” he said. “I was breathing hard. I couldn’t even get a drink of water for a little bit.”