11/11/11 10:00 AM EST
New home could bring big boost for Marlins
Club hoping ballpark leads to more wins, greater attendance
By Joey Nowak / MLB.com
After posting a slightly above-average all-time home record of 781-723 in 19 seasons in South Florida at the ballpark most recently known as Sun Life Stadium, the club can look forward to the change of venue with anticipation. The Marlins have posted a winning mark in six seasons, and have had a home record above .500 in 13 of their 19 campaigns.
But just how much of a difference does a change in venue make for a ballclub in transition, one which was just 31-47 at its friendly confines in 2011?
It certainly didn't hurt the 2006 Cardinals, who scampered all the way to a World Series championship in the club's first year at the new Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals are one of 18 clubs to move into new digs since 1990, and 11 of those finished the inaugural season with a winning record.
The 2000 Giants are another team that enjoyed the fruits of a new ballpark. After finishing 14 games out of first place in 1999, the club moved into Pacific Bell Park (now AT&T Park) and won the division with 97 victories. The most appealing angle of that tale for the Marlins, though, may be that San Francisco's attendance climbed by 1.3 million that year.
The Marlins, meanwhile, typically draw just about 1.3 million in a season. This year, the club attracted 1,477,462 fans through the gates -- the second-highest attendance total since 2005. Four times in the team's 19-year history, Florida has drawn fewer than 1.3 million fans in a year.
By comparison, the Cardinals haven't had fewer than 3 million fans in attendance at their home games since 2003, and have only come up shy of reach the 3 million mark twice since 1997. They haven't dipped below 1.3 million since the strike-shortened 1981 campaign.
Still, nothing matters more than wins and losses. The Marlins are hoping to follow the trend set by the 2006 Cardinals (who were 83-78), the 1997 Braves (101-61 in their first season at Turner Field), the 1995 Rockies (77-67 in their first season at Coors Field) and the 2000 Giants -- all of whom reached the postseason in the same year they opened a new home venue.
Each of the aforementioned four clubs finished with a home winning percentage at least .611.
The Indians finished 10 games below .500 in their final season at Cleveland Stadium before opening up Jacobs Field with a 66-47 mark in a strike-shortened 1994 campaign. Like Cleveland, the Orioles saw a massive swing -- from 67-95 at Memorial Stadium in 1991 to 89-73 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in '92 -- after changing venues.
Maybe it's something about moving out of a football stadium and into a real ballpark? The Rockies were just 120-159 in their final two seasons at Mile High Stadium before moving into Coors Field. The Padres, too, jumped from 64-98 in their final year at Qualcomm Stadium to 87-75 in their first season at PETCO Park. The Marlins will make a similar transition in Florida -- out of the shadow of the Miami Dolphins' goalposts.
Whatever the case may be, the Marlins are certainly figuring to make a mark in the new stadium in 2012, with the intention of declaring that there is no place like home.