SBD/Issue 150/Franchises

Setting A Bad Tone: MLB Teams Already See Economy's Impact On Tix

MLB Clubs Struggling With Ticket Sales
Because Of Weather, High Prices
The MLB Giants drew a paid attendance of 26,593 for yesterday's game against the Padres, marking the "all-time low in 10 seasons at AT&T Park," according to Andrew Baggarly of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The previous low was 30,029 (MERCURYNEWS.com, 4/22). Meanwhile, the Pirates drew just 10,650 fans for yesterday's game at PNC Park against the Marlins, and FS Florida's Rich Waltz said, "Such a beautiful facility, a great sports town, but with 16 consecutive years of losing the crowds have dwindled." Waltz: "I think, though, if they were to get it going here this once again could become a great baseball town" (FSN Florida, 4/22). ESPN's Karl Ravech, leading a discussion on the low attendance at MLB games so far this season, said the crowd at the Marlins-Pirates game "looked like there were even less there" than the announced figure. ESPN’s John Kruk noted the recession's impact on ticket sales, but added the "weather on the East Coast has been absolutely dreadful so far in April." He added the Giants "have a lot of guys on that team that aren’t very marketable players that you want to go see, and until they turn ... around, people aren’t going to probably go watch as much” ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 4/22). ESPN's Peter Gammons acknowledged the bad weather, but added, "You say, ‘Wow, can people afford these tickets?'" Gammons: "As the season goes along, it’s going to be hard. Attendance is down, for comparable periods of time, I think 6.9%. It could go down more than that. If a team falls 10 games out by June 1st, I think it’s going to be very hard to get people to pay even $20 to bring their kids to the games." He added MLB is the "first sport that began the season in the recession, and that’s what’s going to be interesting to watch" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN2, 4/22). ESPN The Magazine’s Tim Kurkjian said MLB "should be concerned" about the early-season ticket figures. Kurkjian: "I unfortunately think it’s going to be a concern all season. … We’re going to have to watch this every day and keep your eyes on the Yankees’ attendance. They’re running the show here and they’re only drawing 70-75% attendance every day in their beautiful new ballpark" (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN2, 4/23).

TRENDING DOWNWARDS: In Seattle, Greg Johns noted the Mariners averaged 30,207 for their first six games at Safeco Field this season, down 3.3% from an average of 31,238 for the first six games last year. And though the ongoing series against the Rays is "expected to draw only 16,000-17,000 per game, those figures also run pretty close to last year's results at this point in the year" (SEATTLEPI.com, 4/21). In Toronto, Gary Loewen reported the Blue Jays' average attendance through seven home games was 22,056, down from 27,881 a year ago. But the '08 figures were "inflated by ticket giveaways to businesses," meaning this year's figures are "more accurate because the Jays have ceased with the freebies" (TORONTO SUN, 4/22).

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