Interesting article from Jason Stark yesterday.
MLB’s overall attendance last season was down three million. He attributes it to the weak free agent market before the 2018 season, and warns that this weak off-season will be a harbinger for even more attendance declines.
His reasoning is, when teams make a big splash by acquiring star power players, fans are energized and season ticket sales skyrocket.
When Barry Bonds signed with the Giants in the winter of 1992, their attendance jumped 1.04 million in 1993.
Ken Griffey joined the Reds weeks before the 2000 season began. Cincinnati’s attendance jumped by more than half-a-million, to 2.6 million, the second highest they have ever drawn in more than one hundred years.
The Tigers acquired Miguel Cabrera in December of 2007. Their 2008 season drew 3.2 million, even though they lost 88 games and finished in last.
His point is well taken. Fans love stars. Fans love reasons to come out. It is, after all, not a sport but an entertainment business.
That’s the problem I have with this recent attitude that you throw away your season if you can’t win the World Series.
Fans are paying good money to see their favorite team. Why would anyone pay to see a team they know has given up? Judging from all the empty seats in Arlington last summer, it seems Rangers fans agree with that statement.
Not that I want Texas to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado but this prevailing notion that they aren’t going to win for a few years so why pay anyone is fool hearted.
“Hey, let’s head to the Ballpark tonight, Lance Lynn is starting” was uttered by nobody ever.
And he’s the best Rangers fans have to look forward to.
“Hey, let’s go see Joey Gallo strike out three times tonight. It will be epic.”
What fan is going to be thrilled at the prospect of that? At least with Gallo there’s a chance he hits one 500 feet.
Fans will see a movie with Clint Eastwood in it, even if the movie isn’t any good. They will even see a movie with no stars in it if it’s good. But a bad movie with no stars? Pass.
Going into 2019, there are only seven American League teams that even trying to be competitive: Boston, New York, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Minnesota, Houston, Oakland. The rest have thrown in the towel and are building for the future. More teams are trying to lose than trying to win.
That’s why attendance is down.
Last I looked, the only fans interested in coming out to the Ballpark to watch the future are the invisible fans.
And they don’t count in the official attendance figures. Or revenue figures.