Marlins President David Samson said that the franchise has already sold "well over 30,000 tickets for the home opener" today against the Braves, according to Juan Rodriguez of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Rodriguez notes depending on "walk-up sales, the final tally might not be far off the 36,601 sellout crowd at last season's inaugural game at Marlins Park." Season tickets are "down to about 5,000 due in part to the club's blueprint-scrapping, payroll-slashing winter." Yet Samson "doesn't anticipate Sun Life Stadium-like smatterings of fans, adding that the club is not in danger of drawing less than 1 million as it did in 2002 (813,111)" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/8). Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Kristi Dosh noted the Marlins' use of Groupon to sell Opening Day tickets "seems to be working." Marlins Senior VP/Marketing & Event Booking Sean Flynn said that combined with other "avenues of ticket sales ... more than 30,000 tickets had been purchased by Thursday for the home opener." He "expects a sellout or close to it" (ESPN.com, 4/5). In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis writes the Marlins are "at odds with fans" as the second season in Marlins Park begins tonight. The "anger over payroll purge," and a dispute about ad signage are among reasons fans "say they will stay away." No matter how many fans attend tonight's game, "more notable will be how many show up for the remaining 80 home games." Season-ticket sales have "dropped from just over 12,000" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/8).
FOR LOVE OF THE GAME: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes you "really have to love baseball to watch the Marlins this year." Because this will "increasingly be the tiring question as the season moves along: What's to see at a Marlins game?" Hyde: "Winning? Watching a major-league product? Enjoying the moment offered in a pro sports event? None of that will be a tangible part of the Marlins this season" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/8). In West Palm Beach, Joe Capozzi notes Marlins Park will feature "several changes, including new sod to replace the turf that didn’t grow properly last year in the retractable-roof stadium." Samson said that the team has installed "special lights -- 'like an artificial sun,'" to help the grass grow. The Marlins’ bullpen will be moved "behind the right-field wall at the request of manager Mike Redmond, so that he and his coaching staff will be able to see it from their dugout along the third-base line." Last year, the Marlins’ bullpen was "behind the left-field wall next to The Clevelander bar -- a location that initially raised complaints from Marlins relievers because of loud music" (PALM BEACH POST, 4/8).