Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Brief History of Florida Marlins Attendance

1993 - The inaugural year with the largest single season attendance in the history of the franchise: 3,064,847. On the field the Marlins almost lost 100 games. Final record: 64-98

1994 - This season was shortened by the now imfamous player strike that caused the cancellation of the World Series. Attendance at Major league parks would suffer for several seasons as a result. Marlins attendance was 1,937,467. In 115 games the Marlins finished 51-64.

1995 - This season was also shortened because the labor dispute dragged into what would have been the start of the season. Marlins attendance was 1,700,466. The team finished 67-76 in the 143 game season.

1996 - This was the first full season after the player strike. The Marlins had an attendance of 1,746,767 and went 80-82.

1997 - The Marlins Owner' H. Wayne Huizenga announced that he was losing money on the ballclub and that he intended to sell it. The announcement comes just before the Marlins first interleague series in history, against the New York Yankees. The announcement casts a cloud over the future of the franchise that remains to this day. A later report by the New York Times shows that although the Marlins had paper losses, Huizenga's other holdings, like the stadium, made a handsome profit and that the team had provided a net positive revenue for his portfolio. The team wins the World Series and had a regular season attendance of 2,364,387, the second highest in franchise history. The team went 92-70.

1998 - Rather than try to defend the championship, Huizenga decides to dismantle the team to make it more attractive to potential buyers by unloading rich player contracts. This begins a cycle of trading the organization's top players for prospects that would continue for several years. Attendance was 1,750,395. No doubt this number was inflated by the fact that many people renewed season tickets before the dismantling became apparent. The 98 Marlins had the dubious distinction of being worse than the inaugural expansion Marlins of 1993, with a record of 54-108.

1999 - Before the 1999 season John Henry buys the ball club and proclaims that the Marlins need a new stadium to be viable. He says that if he can't get public funds that he'll build it himself. What happened was that Wayne Huizenga sold off the risk/cost side of the Marlins equation and kept all of the most important revenue. The attendance drops to 1,369,421 and the Marlins match their inaugural year win total at 64-98, almost dropping 100 games for the second straight year.

2000 - The Marlins improve dramatically on the field posting a record of 79-82 but the negative publicity surrounding the club and failed attempts to obtain public financing for a stadium drive attendance lower to 1,173,389.

2001 - During 2001 the Marlins match their 2000 record of 79-82. Attendence increases to 1,261,226. After the season,the owners meet and vote to contract two teams. Media speculation was that one would certainly be the Marlins.

2002 - Right before the start of the 2000 season, Jeffrey Loria purchased the team. His purchase is aided by loan from Major League Baseball. Negative publicity is a constant from the day he assumes control. His past with the Montreal Expos is widely and negatively publicized. The stadium runs out of hot dogs on opening day and no programs are printed for the 2002 season. Even the mascot is fired to save money. Several trades indicate that the new ownership will continue trading away talent for prospects. With the anticipation that the Marlins will be contracted and the spectre of another work stoppage among the players the Marlins draw a franchise record low of 813,111 fans despite posting their third respectable win total in 3 years (79-82). Ultimately the players come to terms with the owners giving a lot of ground to them but holding firm that no team would be contracted.

2003 - In an almost unimaginable change of fortune the Marlins win the World Series for the second time in their short life as a Major League franchise. Attendance grew as the season progressed but the team had started in a hole and were 10 games below 500 at one point in May. The final attendance count was 1,303,215 and the Marlins had their 2nd winning season at 91-71.

2004 - In 2004 the championship team was kept largely together and the Marlins attendance jumped to 1,723,105. The team was in contention until the last month of the season and posted the franchises third winning record at 83-79. There was optimism that a new ballpark would be built and that stability would finaly come to the Marlins.

2005 - In the off season the Marlins acquired Carlos Delgado in the hopes of returning to the post season. The team was inconsistent but remained in contention until last month of the season. The team finished 83-79 and drew 1,823,388 fans, the most since the World Series season of 1997.

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