Wondering about that attendance figure of 31,042 at Wednesday’s Florida Marlins-Philadelphia Phillies game at Land Shark Stadium? So were we. Several people told me that although the stands looked fairly crowded in person and on TV, the actual attendance in the stadium looked more like 20,000 to 22,000.
We all know it’s not unusual for announced attendance to be larger than the actual crowd. Major League Baseball attendance is announced based on the number of tickets sold, even if those tickets are vastly discounted or say, part of a sponsorship package or if the team stamps a $1 figure on them and donates them to charity. Read more about how attendance is tabulated across the leagues in this piece I wrote in 2006.
So, why if the announced attendance was 20,039 for Tuesday’s double header against the Phillies and the team is averaging 18,109 a game this season, would Wednesday’s figure be more than 30,000?
Looks like the Eye on Miami blog may have found an answer. The blog reports Miami-Dade County and city of Miami employees were offered up to four free tickets each to Wednesday’s game. A copy of the email sent to county employees describes the offer as the team’s “thank you to the many organizations in South Florida that make this a great community.” How about a thank you for the hundreds of millions of public dollars going to the team's new ballpark?
The county email also says the “value of the tickets falls below the gift reporting threshold under the County Code.”
No idea how many county or city employees took advantage of the offer, but it’s likely the team accounted for government employees – even if they didn’t show -- in the attendance announced Wednesday.