The Marlins are about to find out what kind of effect their off-season roster purge will have at the gate.
The Marlins are expecting more than 30,000 for their home opener Monday night at Marlins Park, but the team is expecting a drop in attendance this season. The team’s season-ticket base has declined from about 12,000 last year to around 5,000 this year.
“I’m sorry that it has been such a tough offseason,’’ team president David Samson said Sunday at Citi Field, where the Marlins played the New York Mets. “But I also know that the people coming to the game (Monday) hopefully are there to cheer on the players who deserve to get cheered and will work hard to win in front of the home fans.’’
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who angered many fans by trading Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and other popular players, will attend the home opener against Atlanta.
Asked if he was expecting any negative reaction from fans, Samson said: “We don’t get introduced on the line.’’
Last year, the Marlins sold 36,601 tickets for their first-ever game at Marlins Park. Total attendance was announced as 2.21 million for an average of 27,400, which ranked 18th in baseball.
Samson said he thinks the Marlins already have sold more than one million tickets for 2013. He said an attendance decline is likely but added, “What if all of a sudden come August, September (there are) meaningful games? You can never predict what is going to happen.’’
Samson said the team had already sold at least 30,000 tickets for the home opener.
Many of those tickets were sold as part of deals that gave fans free tickets to another game in April or May. Most teams don’t give that kind of bargain for opening day, but Samson defended the practice.
“We have ticket promotions to every game,” he said. “This was truly no different.”
Marlins Park will feature several changes, including new sod to replace the turf that didn’t grow properly last year in the retractable-roof stadium. The team has installed special lights – “like an artificial sun,’’ Samson said – to help the grass grow.
“In the beginning months they will be in right field and in later months of the summer they’ll be in left field because of the way the sun moves,’’ he said.
The Marlins’ bullpen will be moved behind the right-field wall at the request of manager Mike Redmond, so that he and his coaching staff will be able to see it from their dugout along the third-base line.
Last year, the Marlins’ bullpen was behind the left-field wall next to The Clevelander bar – a location that initially raised complaints from Marlins relievers because of loud music.
The Clevelander will feature an expanded patio area that will increase capacity to 445, up from 286 last year.
There will be no organist at least for the first homestand because the team has not yet hired a replacement for Dick Jans, who resigned after the 2012 season.
The team repositioned several air-conditioning vents after fans complained that some seats near the main concourse were too cold.
Redmond said he and his players are looking forward to returning home after concluding spring training with a game in New Orleans and then playing three-game series in Washington and New York.
“I’m living out of a suitcase literally,” he said. “I have all of my belongings with me on the road. That’s no fun.”