BOB: midseason attendance reviewby Brian Borawski
July 11, 2012
Sacramento looks to draw MLB teamIt looks like the city of Sacramento is losing its National Basketball Association team, the Sacramento Kings, and with that they're now turning their attention to try to draw a Major League Baseball team. Already home to the Sacramento River Cats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, and without much of a plan, we'll have to see how this pans out.
It'll be interesting to see how all of the parties in the Athletics relocation drama react to this. If Sacramento can put together a decent plan, it might allow the San Francisco Giants to keep the Athletics out of San Jose by saying there are viable options outside their area.
Sacramento's media market is about half the size of the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area, but the A's pretty much would have it to themselves. The city's efforts also would give the Tampa Bay Rays some ammunition when they get more serious about pursuing another ballpark by using Sacramento as a relocation possibility.
Wrigley Field facelift hits political snagThe owners of the Chicago Cubs have been looking for finance-related help to pay for a major league facelift to historic Wrigley Field. The biggest roadblock right now appears to be political because the Ricketts family, the owners of the Cubs, paid for some anti-Barack Obama ads in the President's back yard. The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, is a former Obama staffer, and he now is refusing to talk to the Cubs about renovation financing.
Now the Ricketts family is trying to do some damage control with a radio campaign, but it's unclear how effective it's been. It looked like it was a long shot that the financing would have happened for the Cubs to start any renovations at the end of this season, but now they're pretty much in the lurch indefinitely. For now it looks like instead of something major, they'll put in their annual $10 to $15 million to keep the stadium maintained.
Mets TV network looks to Yankees country to pull in fansSNY, the New York Mets-owned sports station, is taking no prisoners in its pursuit of more viewers for it's Geico SportsNite show. In an attempt to draw baseball fans, the network is advertising along the walls of the 161st Street Subway Station in the Bronx, which is where a large number of fans get off the subway to go to Yankee Stadium.
Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees, got in his little jab by saying that he gives SNY credit, and when you're the No. 3 network you shoot to be No. 1. Whether the local sports-oriented SportsNite show survives because of the ads or not will be interesting to see.
MLB and MiLB attendance updateWith most teams just pushing past the halfway mark, it's a good time to take a look attendance around the league.
Topping the list is the Phladelphia Phillies, who ironically are in last place in their division. They're drawing 44,746 per game, but they're operating at 102.5% capacity, so if they continue to struggle, my guess is they drop down from the top of the list.
More interesting is the Texas Rangers at No. 2. They're at 43,607 per game but only 88.7% capacity, so if they start packing the house more, you could see them lead the league in attendance for the first time since I can remember. No. 3 are the New York Yankees with 42,234, and the St. Louis Cardinals (41.854) and San Francisco Giants (41,636) round out the top five.
At this point, nine teams are on pace to top the three-million mark, with the Detroit Tigers just off the mark at number ten. Twenty-three teams are on pace to top the two-million mark.
At the bottom of the list, we have the Cleveland Indians again despite them having another solid season. They're also the only team that's isn't averaging 20,000 a game. The Tampa Bay Rays are second from the bottom, and the Oakland Athletics are just in front of them.
The New York Yankees are the best road draw with 34,879 tickets sold per game. Right behind them are the Chicago Cubs with 33,956 tickets sold per game. The Toronto Blue Jays are the worst road draw with 27,666 per game and, ironically, the Texas Rangers are the second-worst road draw, which somewhat makes sense because the Athletics and Seattle Mariners are near the bottom of the attendance lists.
In Minor League Baseball, attendance is as strong as ever. Through the end of June, minor league teams have brought in 22,346,686—901,800 more than last year. MiLB is even more optimistic because attendance in the first week of July was hot, as well. While MLB attendance looks like it's going to get an uptick this year, MilB attendance has kept itself from facing a serious decline since the peak back in 2008. It wouldn't surprise if MiLB has a record year at the gate this season.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.
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