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Optimism, ticket sales skyrocket at FanFest


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Optimism, ticket sales skyrocket at FanFest

Single-game purchases are up by 10,000 compared to last year.

By Tom D'Angelo


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


Sunday, February 13, 2005


MIAMI GARDENS ? Al Leiter was talking to his family back in New York when he pulled into Dolphins Stadium around 9:30 a.m. Saturday.


"I said, 'You wouldn't believe it, people are waiting outside and the lines . . . ' " Leiter said. "It was so nice to see.''


That optimism translated into more than 25,000 single-game tickets sold at Saturday's FanFest, about 10,000 more than a year ago when the team was coming off the 2003 World Series title. That number does not include season tickets sold, a number the Marlins will not reveal until later in the season. The team is on pace to surpass last season's total of about 10,000 season tickets.


The first person arrived at 5:30 a.m., 4 1/2 hours before the windows opened, and hundreds stood in line as the gates opened. More tickets were sold in the first 25 minutes than the entire 2002 FanFest, and the team surpassed the 2003 FanFest sales by noon.


"A World Series Championship is always important for the following year's sales,'' President David Samson said. "But our numbers today prove that fielding a highly competitive team, while continuing to secure the franchise's future, is even more critical for our fans."


The excitement spiked dramatically 2 1/2 weeks ago when the Marlins signed first baseman Carlos Delgado.


"Fans have been excited from 2003,'' third baseman Mike Lowell said. "I think they felt like we might have got shortchanged a little (last season). You add Leiter, we strengthened our bullpen, we're going to have the guys that we had from the trade in the middle of the year for the full year, that's a big plus, and then Delgado, he's the left hook.''


The biggest complaint, said Samson, was the lack of choice seats for opening day.


"They're realizing our tickets are in such demand,'' Samson said.


Sheldon Goodman of Boca Raton and John Shields of Jupiter arrived at 8:30 a.m. to score tickets to opening day and several other games.


"I feel more excited about the players they acquired,'' Goodman said. "I feel they got a better chance of coming into their own and getting into the playoffs.''


Added Shields: "And the players they kept, core players.''


Unlike other years, when fans groused about cost-cutting and losing players such as Ivan Rodriguez, the event's town meetings were upbeat, sometimes comical and energetic. Samson, General Manager Admin Beinfest and several players fielded questions ranging from stadium issues to the team's role as favorites.


Brannon Valade, 10, of Lake Worth asked Beinfest if the Marlins can win the pennant after adding Leiter and Delgado.


"Admin has one-year left on his contract, so he sure hopes so,'' Samson said.


Beinfest, who told the fans, "This is probably as confident as I have ever been going into spring training,'' addressed issues concerning the rotation, the bullpen and right field.


Beinfest said the roles of A.J. Burnett and Josh Beckett will be "vital'' to the Marlins' success and the team "will win with their starting pitching.'' The decision to part with Armando Benitez and move Guillermo Mota to the closer's role was tough, he said.


The logjam created by Delgado's signing will "work itself out,'' according to Beinfest. The Marlins will use spring training to assess the health of Jeff Conine and Juan Encarnacion, both recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.


"It's not a problem; it's a good thing to have too many good players,'' Beinfest said.


Beinfest, though, was reminded of the fickle nature of fans when he was asked about his plans to "shore up'' the pitching rotation . . . for 2006.


"Gimme a break,'' he said, smiling.






Nice article by D'Angelo. :thumbup


I spoke with him for a moment after the press conference and told him how I appreciated the positive stories the Post always publishes regarding the Marlins......as opposed to the Herald (who should be a home town newspaper).

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