SBD/Issue 151/Franchises

Astros Seeing Early Dip In Attendance At Minute Maid Park

Astros Attendance Down More Than 2,000
Through First Six Games This Season

Astros attendance at Minute Maid Park is "down about" 8% through the first six games of the season compared to last season, according to Bernardo Fallas of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The Astros' average home attendance this season is 30,120, "boosted by a record-setting crowd of 43,836 for the April 5 season opener." The average attendance after six home games last year was 32,796. And the prospects for "big crowds don't appear too promising" as the Astros start a nine-game homestand tonight against the Marlins, Pirates and Reds -- "three teams that traditionally don't draw well" in Houston. Astros President of Business Operations Pam Gardner said, "We're not in panic mode after six games." But with the team beginning the season with a 3-9 record, Gardner "understands why attendance at Minute Maid Park stands to be subject to scrutiny this season." Fallas notes the team's attendance has "dropped each year since 2006," but Astros Owner Drayton McLane is "quick to point to a down economy for last year's drop." McLane "expects an improving economy will help business and baseball in general in 2010." Gardner said, "Our expectation entering the season was that we should be able to maintain or be very close to what we did last season. Of course, the team is a big bonus to that; if the team performs well, hopefully you can do better." McLane added, "The team winning certainly adds a great deal to the attendance" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/20).

CROWD CONTROL: The AP's Ben Walker noted while MLB attendance is "up slightly overall from this point last year," a handful of teams "have drawn record-low crowds of barely 10,000 at their ballparks." Walker: "Blame it on chilly April weather, the lingering effects of the economy, the lure of the NBA and NHL playoffs on television, or fans simply tired of losing. Whatever, the sight of rows upon rows of empty seats is startling" (AP, 4/18). A crowd of 14,528 attended Orioles-Mariners last night at Safeco Field, “more than a thousand below the previous low of 15,818” set in May '08 (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/20). Meanwhile, last night's attendance at Nationals Park for Rockies-Nationals was "one of the smallest crowds in Nats history" with a paid attendance of 11,623 ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 4/19).

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