Miami Marlins

Jeter "not happy" with small crowds, but pleased with turnstile count

Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter addresses the media regarding fan attendance prior to Friday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Marlins Park.
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter addresses the media regarding fan attendance prior to Friday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Marlins Park. Getty Images

While Derek Jeter said he’s disappointed with the Marlins’ record-low crowd turnouts so far, he has no intention of padding the figures, as was done in the past.

“We’re not happy with it,” Jeter said. “We have to grow those numbers.”

But the Marlins’ new chief executive officer vowed to continue counting only tickets sold when reporting attendance numbers.

“One of the qualities of running a first-class organization is honesty,” Jeter said. “We’re transparent and we’re going to be honest about it. And reporting paid attendance as the number of tickets sold is the way we’re going to report it.”

Average home attendance at Marlins Park through the team’s first nine games there was 18,853, which ranked 26th among all Major League teams, ahead of the Royals, Reds, White Sox and Tigers.

But they have already drawn the three smallest crowds in Marlins Park history, with a franchise-low 6,150 showing up for Wednesday’s game against the Mets. That figure was smaller even than the 6,960 that turned out the same day to see the Marlins’ Double A affiliate, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, for their home opener.

"After the first homestand (against the Cubs and Red Sox), our turnstile numbers were higher this year than what they were last year,” Jeter said. “We’re on pace after the second homestand to have our turnstile numbers higher this year than they were last year.”

Jeter said reporting actual paid attendance, no matter how low the figures, will be reflected in future crowd increases.

“I think reporting it this way gives us an opportunity to show some growth over time,” he said. “We’re going to help grow the game of baseball here in South Florida.”

One way to ensure attendance spikes: winning.

The Marlins on Friday opened a weekend series with the Pirates sitting in last place in the National League East with a 3-9 record, tied for the second-worst record in the Majors.

“Our number one priority is how we can increase the attendance in this market,” Jeter said. “Winning more games is part of it. We have to win some more games. I’ve heard people say Miami’s a tough sports town. But I think that’s every sports town. You put a winning product on the field and people come.”

Jeter said one of the major complaints he hears often from fans is the difficulty caused by traffic in getting into and out of the ballpark before and after games.

“I think ingress and egress is an issue that we’re addressing,” Jeter said. “We’ve met with the police department of Miami, the police force of the county, and they’e been very cooperative.”

His overall impression of the on-field product so far: “I like the grit, the fight the team has shown. We’re developing a winning culture, and sometimes it takes a little bit of time. No one’s happy about the results.But I like the approach. Guys are battling. But we’ve got to find ways to win more games.”

-- Jeter said he will not attend the Marlins’ two games next week at Yankee Stadium, where he spent his career.

The reason?

“It would be an awkward situation for me to actually go to Yankee Stadium,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a story one way or the other, so I might as well get out in front of it and say I’m not going.”

NOTES: Garrett Cooper’s wrist injury is worse than initially diagnosed and the first baseman/outfielder was transferred to the 60-day disabled list Friday.

Cooper has a partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, which is now in a cast.

The Marlins on Friday also called up outfielder JB Shuck and optioned outfielder Braxton Lee to Triple A New Orleans.