That empty feeling was particularly strong in Miami, where the Marlins set new lows at Pro Player Stadium on two straight days, bottoming out when only 7,741 fans showed up to see Florida beat the Giants last Thursday afternoon. "It must have been the weather," Marlins owner John Henry said, sarcastically referring to a sunny day that passed without a threat of rain.
Whether precipitated by rising ticket prices (tickets to major league games are up by 12% over last season) or by other factors, the scourge of the empty seats wasn't limited to teams expected to be out of the playoff race by July. The A's had a Coliseum-record crowd of 53,498 on Opening Day but drew only 10,188 the next night. Last Thursday, Seattle beat the Red Sox in front of 25,121, its smallest audience since Safeco Field opened last July. During its opening four-game series against the Royals, Toronto drew the three smallest crowds in the SkyDome's 12-year history; the 13,514 who showed up to watch the Blue Jays beat K.C. on April 4 was nearly 7,000 less than the park's previous low, set last May. "There's a lot going on right now said righthander Roy Halladay, who pitched seven innings and got the win. "You've got the Raptors [who drew 19,800 that night for their game at the Air Canada Centre] and the Maple Leafs [who had that night off]. Hopefully our time will come, when we're in the hunt, and the fans will come out."
Even the Diamondbacks, who have been among the National League leaders in attendance in the two seasons of their existence, saw a turnstile downturn. They failed to sell out Opening Day against the Phillies and drew 29,291 for their second game, the third smallest crowd ever at Bank One Ballpark. A day later even fewer (28,774) showed up at the BOB. "We can't do much more than we've done," said managing general partner Jerry Colangelo. "We had a very good spring; we're coming off a fantastic year; we've marketed about as hard as you can market Either they come or they don't come."
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