Early Bird Special: Marlins Hope 6:40pm Starts Draw More Fans
The Marlins next season will be the latest team to start some home games at 6:40pm local time, and team CEO Derek Jeter said the move came after "listening to our fan base," according to David Wilson of the MIAMI HERALD. Jeter said, "We wanted to make sure that we accommodate some of those fans that said they'd like to come straight from work to the ballpark and some that said they'd like to get home a little bit earlier. ... We're going to test it out and see how it is, but it all comes from the feedback." The Yankees and Reds are among the teams that already have started games at 6:40, while the Cubs next year will join the Marlins with earlier start times for games in April, May and September. Jeter acknowledged that he hopes the earlier starts will draw more people to Marlins Park. He said, "We need to increase the attendance numbers here. There's been some games, especially last weekend, where we had close to 30,000 people in here and you just see the energy level." More Jeter: "We've seen a steady increase in our attendance numbers throughout the year, especially from June to July I think our attendance numbers increase like 15 percent, so we've still got a long way to go, we've got a lot of work to do. But I like to think we're heading in the right direction" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/15).
TRYING TO DRAW MORE YOUNG FANS: In Ft. Lauderdale, Wells Dusenbury notes the decision to move the start times up "seems to be an appeal toward attracting younger fans to the ballpark," as the three months impacted "coincide with the school schedule for kids." Drawing people to Marlins Park for weekday games has been "especially difficult" this season, with an average of just 7,324 fans for 13 Monday-Thursday games in April and May. The Marlins overall this season are "averaging a league-worst 10,072 fans" through 63 games, though that is a "slight uptick from last year's 10,013 average" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/16).
CARDS COULD FOLLOW SUIT: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar reports it is possible that 6:45pm start times for Cardinals games at Busch Stadium "will be implemented for the entire season next year." The team this season has 15 total 6:45pm start times for weeknight games "early and late in the season, when most schools are in session, in order to allow families who attend to get home earlier." The seven such games in the spring saw an average attendance decline of around 1,400 fans, though those games coincided with the Blues' Stanley Cup run. The results of the eight remaining early starts will be a "key factor in the decision about making them the norm all next year" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/16).