The state is Florida is home to two MLB teams, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins. Those two teams ranked 29th and 30th in average attendance during the 2019 MLB season. As a Rays fan myself, I could give you a long list of the countless reasons why people rarely show up to games but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.
It’s unclear when exactly Major League Baseball will start the 2020 season but the latest report suggests the season could start on July 1st with a shortened 80-game season versus the typical 162 games. This latest round of MLB news also puts forth the idea of new divisions in baseball reorganized around geography to limit travel exposure.
During a radio appearance last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was discussing when professional sports could potentially resume in the state of Florida and he took that opportunity to dunk on the Miami Marlins’ abysmal attendance record. This is the kind of joke you usually hear from casual sports fans and/or pundits, it’s not often you hear the state’s governor dunking on one of his state’s teams like this.
Discussing the need for social distancing practices in order for fans to attend games, DeSantis name-checked the Marlins, who consistently rank at the bottom of MLB in attendance.
“You go down to the Miami Marlins, as much as I hate to say it, they’re not selling out,” DeSantis said.
“You go there and it’s kind of social distancing anyways, because the stadium’s usually only a quarter full.”
Last season, the Marlins finished last in attendance, averaging just 10,016 fans per game at Marlins Park, which has a seating capacity of 37,000. Miami also had the distinction of hosting the lowest-attended game in a major league ballpark last year, attracting just 5,297 fans for its Aug. 26 game versus the Cincinnati Reds. (via Sun Sentinel)
A few hours northwest, the Tampa Bay Rays play in St. Pete’s Tropicana Field which has a seating capacity of 42,735. Last season, they averaged 14,552 fans per game.
It seems 100% plausible that both MLB teams in Florida could host fans at games as long as they were spread out and wearing masks and some fans will show up but it’ll be mostly a gimmick. Whether or not fans would consistently show up at games under the new restrictions is an entirely new discussion. Both teams are pulling in dismal numbers to begin with and the global health crisis certainly wouldn’t help those numbers.
For more on the latest developments in Major League Baseball’s plan to start the season, you can click here to read the weekend report.