The Marlins say ticket sales for the upcoming season have increased compared to a year ago and are ahead of last year’s pace.
Some of those were sold Saturday at their annual FanFest at Marlins Park, which attracted a number of disillusioned fans as well as some remaining optimistic as they cope with the aftermath of an offseason of sweeping change.
"We’re a little disappointed, but we realize it was something that was necessary," said Carlos Musibay, who attended FanFest with his wife, Mayte, and their four-year old son, Carlos, Jr. "We’re behind the home team no matter what and we’re here to support them."
The Marlins, a franchise that underwent multiple fire sales under previous owners Jeffrey Loria and Wayne Huizenga, traded All-Stars such as Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon as well as former Gold Glove outfielder Christian Yelich in recent weeks for a number of prospects in moves made by the new ownership group spearheaded by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter.
Their stated goal is to strengthen and stabilize the future of a franchise that had one of the most barren farm systems in baseball.
But while many of those prospects are highly-rated and show promise for future stardom, the Marlins are projected to finish this season with the worst record in baseball and to lose in the neighborhood of 92-100 games by various prognosticators.
"I hope this is the start of something new because everything so far has been a fire sale, a clearance sale," said Alberto Bernstein, who attended FanFest with his daughter, Chloe. "Hopefully we can keep what we have now, but other than Justin Bour, it feels like no one else is here. I feel like we’ve given away everybody for a bag of Doritos and a Coke."
Bernstein, like many other fans that came to the ballpark Saturday, said he’s waiting to see if the initial suffering will be worth it.
"I’ll probably come to a game just before the baseball experience and because my daughter is starting to like baseball," said Bernstein, who plans to go to one or two games this year as opposed to the 10 or so he’d attend in years past. "It’s kind of hard to believe in this management when they’ve given everyone away."
So will attendance be better?
The Marlins said 60 percent of them are reduced or the same and 40 percent have gone up in price although it wasn’t specified which sections increased or decreased in price. The team also said ticket prices could vary for depending on the opponent.
Single-game ticket sales are ahead of last year’s pace and heading into Saturday when they went on sale, a team spokesman said they had sold more than double last year’s presale. Sales on Saturday at FanFest were well ahead of the first day of first day of on-sale last year according to the Marlins.
The Marlins open the regular season at home against some marquee opponents. Their first four games are against the Chicago Cubs and the next two against the Boston Red Sox. The Marlins also play the New York Yankees in August.
"If you’re a baseball fan, you see other franchises that have gone through the same thing," said Musibay, who said he’s gone to games since the franchise’s debut in 1993. "Look at the Astros. They went through years of suffering and but they came out with a World Series [championship]. Hopefully, [the Marlins] will make the right moves and build a foundation. They have some good pieces internally and they can turn it around, but it takes everybody in the franchise to believe and for the fans to support them."
While Musibay is not a season-ticket holder, nor plans to become one, he thinks he and his family will still come to games from time to time.
"I think we would just because we’re baseball fanatics," Musibay said. "It will be tough. There’s a lot of competition in Miami with other teams especially now with Dwyane Wade back with the Heat. They’re going to be competing with a lot of franchises and events in South Florida. But if they’re competitive, I’m sure people will be out here."