MARLBORO, NY – In traveling through Florida on a two and a half week hiatus in which it rained every day of the trip, the opportunity forced by Mother Nature had me and my hosts attending baseball games in Miami and Tampa. There’s a bunch to extrapolate on regarding these stadiums, the baseball experience, and what can only be describe as the death knell for MLB in the state of Florida.
Marlins Park is as nice a stadium that you can go to. The sightlines and openness of the corridors offer a view of the Miami skyline and is aesthetically pleasing. This is a dome we’re talking about and usually this type of edifice has very little going for it to the eye. Which brings me to the Rays home, Tropicana Field – or The Trop, as the locals call it. This place has very little feel of anything let alone baseball except it could be a warehouse store along the likes of a Costco or Home Depot. A bottom line comparison: Marlins Park is the Sistine Chapel to The Trop’s aluminum can.
There are always added expenses when going to sporting events like travel and parking. Both games were about thirty-five minutes from the houses and isn’t a prohibitive cost even with $3/gallon gas prices. Parking was an absolute joy if you take advantage of this tip in Miami. The stadium is located in the Little Havana section and entrepreneurial homeowners will let you park on their lawns for the low, low price of ten bucks! Tampa on the other hand requires you pre pay for your parking prior to arriving at the lots and even at $15 this pales in comparison to whatever they rape you for at Yankee Stadium and CitiField.
Marlins Park is a busy place. There really is a lot going on inside from the Bobblehead “Museum” which is a glorified expansive Lucite case filled with baseball players past and present to the modern dance music styling of DJ Vertigo and a dopey diorama in right field that shoots water when the home team hits a dinger. And visit The Clevelander section in left field where the waitresses wear shorts that would make a Hooters girl blush. Tampa has little in game entertainment unless you count a mascot named DJ Kitty and a half dozen dancing girls. What a gyp.
Right, the games. There were more fans cheering the opposing teams at both locales. It made more sense in Tampa where the Rays hosted the Baltimore Orioles whose Spring Training home is in nearby Sarasota and was evident in the amount of orange in the stands. The disproportion of enemy fans in Miami was a little more puzzling. The Dodgers were in town and held a significant amount of fan support for some strange reason being from the left coast. I do realize Florida is a transient city but there has to be a better explanation. The Marlins won their game 6-5 while the Rays dropped a 2-0 to the O’s in a very uneventful game.
Major League Baseball counts attendance as tickets sold rather than tickets used for various reasons which include the business side of advertising dollars. Take a look at your television screen and observe the sea of empties in the stands. It’s worse at a place like Marlins Park and The Trop. The listed attendance figures the two nights in question were 5,000 and 11,000 respectively. There were no lines to do anything and I was afraid if I got mugged in the barren bathroom nobody would find the perpetrators. Where patrons at CitiField have been known to urinate outside the bathroom doors due to long lines you can leisurely read the Sunday paper in either Florida stadium while dropping a deuce. How long can these two teams and others continue to meet operating costs if nobody is attending games? I know there’s revenue sharing but I’m starting to think baseball has become overpriced to the point where the casual fan won’t be held hostage any more. The Florida angle perplexes me also–like how can a state where people flock to see meaningless exhibition games not be able to sustain even moderate attendance numbers?
The baseball apocalypse is right around the corner, folks… and so is DJ Eberle, tomorrow.