The Marlins in their short history have signed very few long term free agents especially during the Loria-Beinfest regime. They focus on short contracts and small money trying to maximize the quality of the team through trades, the draft and very rarely with large free agent signings.
In 2008 when the Marlins signed Hanley Ramirez to his current seven-year deal, many jaded and cynical Marlins fans saw something out of the organization that they had never seen before, in one word: Commitment.
The Marlins committed to Hanley, by giving the longest and largest contract in franchise history. Coincidentally the contract was only signed after the Miami-Dade County commission approved the funding to assist the team in building its ballpark.
Therein lies the rub, the new ballpark, that is the beginning and the end for the Marlins future success and tenure in South Florida.
Hanley's contract as it is structured today is back loaded so he will receive more money once the new stadium is built and the club is hopefully and I stress hopefully making more money from the increased attendance from the new stadium.
The new stadium should almost definitely convert the Marlins, middle of the pack TV ratings into hopefully, middle of the pack attendance rankings. Dolphin/Joe Robbie/ Pro Player/ Landshark Stadium is a dreadful place to watch a baseball game.
First because of the weather, especially the uncertainty over rain delays, with the ever present possibility of a torrential summer downpour right around the time the games are scheduled to start. Second, going to a day game in summer in Miami is almost like torture, it's too hot and humid to enjoy yourself and its so bright you can't see the game.
Third factor that makes Landshark Stadium unlikely to draw good attendance, is its location people from southern Miami-Dade County don't want to make the drive all the way to the county line and it's also far for people in Palm Beach county.
The new stadium will get rid of all the defects of Landshark Stadium, it'll be a retractable roof stadium, it'll be air-conditioned and it'll be in downtown Miami with easy public transport access to the stadium. Making it easier for people who don't want to brave rush hour traffic to go to the game.
Casual fans that live in northern Palm Beach County won't enjoy the almost three-hour round trip to downtown Miami, but more serious fans and the ones in southern Palm Beach County won't mind, the drive to Little Havana is only 20 minutes longer than the one to Landshark Stadium.
The Marlins new willingness to put themselves out there and re-sign Josh Johnson is a show of confidence on how successful they expect the stadium enterprise to be. Just like with Hanley's contract they also back-loaded JJ's contract so he will receive more money once the new stadium revenue starts flowing in.
Most teams in the top-tier in terms of success, are also in the top-tier in revenue, attendance and TV ratings and that's no coincidence. In the MLB where there is no salary cap and limited revenue sharing, a team needs to earn the money it wants to spend.
In the future if Marlins are able to consistently draw over 20,000 even more a night in the new stadium, with the Samson-Hill-Beinfest regime which has a great track record in finding old and new talent around baseball. They will become perennial contenders in a traditionally very "competitive" NL East.
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