We all know that professional sports is a business. We understand that. It’s a given. But something has been going on with the Miami Marlins that makes me think they need to look beyond their bottom line.
For the past four or five years, high school baseball teams have been allowed to play at the new Marlins stadium, which is quite a big deal for the student athletes. But the catch is, the two teams have to pony up $24,000 to play there. That’s $12,000 per team. In order to raise this money, the Marlins give the high school teams 1000 tickets to their high school game and a future Marlins game to sell. It is suggested that the teams sell these tickets as a package to help promote the Marlins games.
The arrangement isn’t totally bad, since the schools can raise a little money for their organizations that way. If the team is able to sell all the tickets, they will be able to profit about $3,000-$5,000 for their programs. But recently things have gotten worse. From what we hear, the teams now only have 600 Marlins tickets and 600 high school tickets because they were Opening Day tickets, which isn’t really enough. And to get more high school tickets, they have to pay $10 more per ticket package. It isn’t possible to just get more tickets to the high school game.
It gets worse. The school teams have to lug in their filled coolers with ice and water for the players to drink because there isn’t anywhere to fill them at the stadium. They also aren’t allowed to bring Gatorade or sunflower seeds for the players as it would require them to have to clean the dugouts. During the school games, sections of the stadium were roped off for them to sit in specified areas and there were no accessible water fountains, so they had to go buy bottled water from the concessions stands.
Add to that the fact that the high school games have no time limit imposed upon them, the Marlins input a two hour time limit on these games. One recent game had to be declared a tie solely because of the time limit. That doesn’t seem right.
The final and most upsetting thing that happened is the coaches of each team were informed that only the starters of the game would be able to partake in the infield/outfield, or warmups before the game started. Each player is asked by their coach to sell X amount of tickets to help cover the cost of being able to play this game. The warmups might be their only opportunity to step foot on the Major League facility and they were asked to get off the field. Several teams were informed as it was going on and the players had to walk off the field while it was going on. It was a sad sight to see.
The Marlins baseball franchise and its stadium are a part of the community. In fact, the Marlins’ owners relied upon the community to cover the cost of building that stadium with taxpayer dollars. So why can’t the Marlins be a little more accommodating and show the community how appreciative they are for the support they receive and be more willing to work with the high school baseball teams? It seems that would be a win-win for everyone. Encouraging these young athletes is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
So Marlins, please don’t strike out our high school baseball teams. Who knows—some of those players could grow up to be on your roster.