SBD/January 22, 2013/Franchises

Marlins Face Uphill Battle To Win Back Fans, Will Seek To Promote Young Players

Giancarlo Stanton is one of the young players the Marlins will promote
The start of Spring Training is less than a month away, and the Marlins are “trying to persuade fans to come back and support a team that features one marquee star” in RF Giancarlo Stanton following the team's offseason payroll purge, according to Joe Capozzi of the PALM BEACH POST. Z Sports & Entertainment Managing Dir Scott Becher said that this year’s marketing efforts "might be a tougher challenge than the team had after dramatic roster changes that followed” the ‘97 and ‘05 seasons. The difference “now is that many longtime fans feel lied to and misled” by Owner Jeffrey Loria. Marlins Senior VP/Marketing & Event Booking Sean Flynn said, “Believe me, the team understands what the tone and the attitude of the market is." Flynn said that it is “too early to determine how the sour public reaction will affect regular-season ticket sales.” He added that he “didn’t have figures yet to indicate how many season ticket holders might not renew.” The Marlins will “roll out a 2013 marketing slogan in early February.” But Flynn said that the “overall approach won’t differ too much from previous campaigns” and that the marketing message “will not include ‘a direct response to’ the fans’ anger.” Flynn said that this year for the first time the team “will offer at every home game ‘a value-added component,’ which might include a ticket promotion or a giveaway.” Sports marketing experts said that given the “bad feelings toward the team in the community,” the Marlins would be “smart to focus their campaign on the experience of Marlins Park and on advertisements with individual players offering messages to fans.” The Marlins are “hoping fans will embrace their latest crop of young players." However, it “might take more than a year for the Marlins to make an impact on their attendance, which marketing experts predict will decrease from last year when they drew 2,219,444 total fans, an average of 27,400 per game, 18th in the majors” (PALM BEACH POST, 1/20).

BONE TO PICK: In Miami, Barry Jackson reported the Marlins' payroll “projects to” $32.5M, but the total is $45M “counting money they owe other teams from salary-dumping trades.” A source said that if Loria “doesn’t increase” the Marlins’ payroll in the coming months, MLBPA execs “plan to pursue the issue” with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. But the Marlins “privately believe MLB won’t force them to increase payroll” during ’13 or before ’14 “for a couple of reasons: They assert they lost $40 million last season and won’t make much, if anything, this season, because they expect attendance and associated ballpark revenue to plummet” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 1/20). CBSSPORTS.com's Dayn Perry wrote, "Normally, one would be foolish to imagine Bud Selig's siding against an owner, but -- as was the case last time -- he's also sensitive to the many team owners who are miffed by Loria's skinflint ways." While it is "nice to see that the MLBPA won't stand idly by while Loria and company rip off fans and the remainder of MLB, this kind of thing is likely to continue until he's drummed out of organized baseball" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/21).
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