The Marlins' final attendance in their first year at Marlins Park “will fall short of expectations by about 500,000 fans," according to sources cited in a front-page piece by Clark Spencer of the MIAMI HERALD. While Marlins Park “received mostly high marks for its distinctive looks and fan friendliness, just two games were sellouts in the 37,000-seat stadium." The Marlins will total "more than two million in home attendance for only the third time in franchise history," but the grand sum after today’s finale against the Mets “will represent the lowest figure" of any of the 11 major league ballparks that have opened since ’01. Marlins President David Samson said, “We were just never able to get any momentum on the field, and that impacted attendance.” Spencer writes Marlins officials for years "used the 'build it and they will come' mantra in their pitch for public funding to build a new climate-controlled ballpark with a retractable roof." But after a "robust inaugural" in April, "large sections of empty seats became the norm." Once the "novelty wears off, new ballparks almost always experience attendance declines" in their second season. Meanwhile, Samson acknowledged that the ballpark's cooling system "is a work in progress, as some seats located near the air vents can be unbearably chilly." Also, the sound system "is not crystal clear in some reaches of the ballpark, making it difficult to understand." But Samson said that "positives at the new ballpark far outweighed the negatives." He added that the Clevelander club in left field "was a big hit." Spencer: "So was Bobblehead Museum on the main concourse, as well as the Home Run Sculpture in left center." Additionally, the "parking hassles that plagued the ballpark at the start of the season subsided as fans got to know their way around" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/3).
REDEMPTION SONG: Spencer in a separate piece noted Adam Greenberg, who signed a one-day contract with the Marlins last week, recieved his first official MLB at-bat last night after striking out against Mets P R.A. Dickey. The at-bat “lasted all of 33 seconds,” but the Marlins Park crowd of 29,709 “offered him a standing ovation” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/3). Greenberg said of striking out, “The one thing that I knew that I was going to go up swinging, going down swinging, one way or another” ("Today," NBC, 10/3). Greenberg: “It was magical. The energy that was in the stadium was something that I have never experienced in my life, and I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that again” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/3). In Ft. Lauderdale, Mike Berardino notes Greenberg “had planned to do a curtain call, to acknowledge everyone who helped him get here." Greenberg wanted to recognize "not just the 29,709 in the stands at Marlins Park, but those 26,000 fans who signed an online petition at OneAtBat.com.” But then he “figured he really shouldn’t do that after striking out, so that was saved until the game ended two hours later” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/3).
For the MLS Earthquakes and Sporting K.C., "winning has erased bitter memories of local anonymity and empty grandstands," according to Frederick Dreier in a special to USA TODAY. On-field success also has "boosted ticket sales and TV ratings while attracting scores of casual fans." Since the '10 season, Sporting K.C. has "nearly doubled its attendance," while the Earthquakes have "seen a 40% jump." Success has been "well timed for the clubs." The Earthquakes organization is "financing an 18,000-seat stadium, which could open by 2014." Team President David Kaval said that the "team's success and news media attention helped sell all 12 luxury suites and 576 club seats in the new stadium." He said that winning also has "helped him in sponsorship meetings with the local corporate community." Meanwhile, Sporting K.C. is "two years removed from a rebranding campaign that replaced the old 'Wizards' name." Sporting K.C. CEO Robb Heineman said that he "anticipated a boost from the stadium," but that winning has "helped advance the new team name beyond his projections" (USA TODAY, 10/3).
PEOPLES' CHOICE: In N.Y., Mary Pilon notes beginning Sunday, and ending Dec. 7, MLS Sounders fans "will head to the poll and cast ballots on whether the team should retain" GM Adrian Hanauer. In the "unlikely event he is voted out" as GM, Hanauer will "retain his minority stake" in the team. He said that he was "not nervous about the vote." Hanauer has "not retained a political consultant, created attack ads or given stump speeches." Pilon notes in order to vote, fans "must be a member of the Alliance, the club's official members association." Membership is gained "by being a season-ticket holder or paying a $125 fee." A minimum of 10,000 votes "is required, and the results will be announced Dec. 13." Some European clubs "like Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain have long allowed fans to vote on their management" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/3).
IF A TREE FALLS...:In Portland, Geoffrey Arnoldreports MLS has fined Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson $25,000 for "inappropriate conduct directed at officials and through use of social media" for his actions during and after Saturday's game against DC United. Paulson "confronted the referees as they walked off the field after the Timbers 1-1 draw." The refs "had barely stepped off the field of play when Paulson confronted the referees and began yelling at them as they walked toward their locker room" (OREGONLIVE.com, 10/2).
Nets officials are "reaching out to former members of the Brooklyn Dodgers to invite them to the Nets' season opener against the Knicks on Nov. 1 at Barclays Center,” according to Scott Cacciola of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Former Dodgers P Ralph Branca and C Joe Pignatano are among those to accept the Nets' offer. Branca said, "I have no idea what's planned. I think they'll probably just introduce us before the start of the game." Cacciola notes it would be a "symbolic gesture on the part of the Nets, who are filling the void as Brooklyn's first major-league sports team" since the Dodgers left for L.A. in '57. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Barclays Center last week, officials "made repeated references to the Dodgers as a sort of homage to Brooklyn's proud sports heritage" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/3).
CHANGING THE GAME: Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Barclays Center developer and Nets investor Bruce Ratner appeared Monday night on PBS’ “Charlie Rose” to discuss the opening of Barclays Center. Ratner said the arena is “the center in every kind of way” of Brooklyn. He said, “It’s going to be a major, major shift in the way people in Brooklyn spend their extra time.” Ratner noted there was “every single impediment” to the creation of the arena, from the “recession to 35 litigations to the difficulty of constructing in the city.” Ratner: “Without Mikhail coming in and buying 80% of the team and providing the economics to do that, I don’t think we could have (built Barclays Center).” Prokhorov said Ratner is “my best partner.” Ratner noted the current level of “strong opposition” towards the project “is relatively small.” Meanwhile, he talked about the impact Nets minority Owner Jay-Z has had on the team, saying, “He’s been terrific, everything from basketball in terms of helping get players to designing logos to marketing to business sense and so on. He’s got everything” (“Charlie Rose,” PBS, 10/1).
THAT DON'T IMPRESS ME MUCH: In N.Y., Kevin Baker wrote what “stands out most about the new home of the Nets is how little it stands out.” The arena’s latticework of "'preweathered' steel panels is supposed to evoke Brooklyn’s brownstone tradition," but it instead looks like "one more bricked-up urban bunker from the 1970s, when panicky municipal authorities thought they’d be fighting a race war." Baker: "It is almost weirdly provincial for New York, more like a college fieldhouse for a Division III school in Sheboygan" (NYOBSERVER.com, 10/2).