Continued from page 1

The result was deafening.

“There is no sound like this place full with 65,000,” Conine said. “You can’t duplicate it anywhere else in baseball, because nowhere else could hold that many people. It was amazing.”

But when the Marlins failed to field a contender, which was most of the time, the majority of seats sat empty, their tangerine color louder than the crowd. This season Florida will finish last in the NL in attendance for the seventh year in a row.

Turnouts of less than 5,000 were common, with so much elbow room one fan collected three foul balls by the fifth inning, then left. Cameras caught two spectators making love _ they were that comfortable with their sense of privacy in the upper deck.

Visiting fans often outnumbered Marlins rooters. Usually there weren’t many of either.

“We’d go out there and hear crickets,” Ross said. “It’s funny when you start seeing fans and recognize them and know them by name.”

The 75,540 seats made crowds look even smaller, which is one reason the new ballpark has only 36,000 seats. It also has air conditioning and a sliding roof to eliminate South Florida’s subtropical weather as a drain on attendance and players.

“I am ecstatic that the Marlins are moving,” said Chipper Jones, who played 121 games at Joe Robbie Etcetera Stadium. “Nothing against this place, but it’s a football stadium.”

This week, the Marlins can stop trying to make it be a ballpark.

___

AP Sports Writer Noah Trister in Detroit and AP freelancer Rick Eymer in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this report.