SBD/April 7, 2011/Franchises

Cardinals Draw Smallest Crowd For Three-Game Series In New Busch Stadium's History

Cardinals drew smallest crowd in ballpark's history for Monday's game
The Cardinals drew a total of 100,638 fans for their three-game series against the Pirates this week, marking the "smallest attendance for a three-game series" in the history of the new Busch Stadium, according to Derrick Goold of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The team drew 32,007 fans for Monday's game, marking the "smallest crowd in the ballpark's six seasons." But Cardinals VP/Ticket Sales Joe Strohm said, "There are a couple factors that play into that. No. 1, the season starting earlier (than usual). And No. 2, when you looked at the schedule and also saw you were playing against the final game of the NCAA (men's basketball) championship. Honestly, the Pirates play into it a little bit, but at the end of the day it wouldn't have mattered who we played outside of Chicago." The Cardinals approached MLB "about shifting Monday's game and playing Tuesday, Wednesday and today against the Pirates" in order to "avoid playing opposite Monday night's national championship game." But the Pirates open their home schedule today and "could not budge." Strohm said that with the "chilly weather Monday, the Cardinals estimated the crowd at around 21,000 and had an actual count of slightly more than 22,000." Goold notes April is a "harsh gauge" for attendance. In "every season at the new ballpark except 2007, when the team was buoyed by the 2006 World Series championship, April has featured the lowest attended games." Four of the "smallest crowds of 2010 were in April" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/7).

AVERAGE PLUMMETS: In Cincinnati, John Fay noted the Reds drew 105,160 fans for their weekend series against the Brewers, but their attendance "came crashing down Tuesday night" when "only 11,821 showed up" for the game against the Astros. But Reds COO Phil Castellini said Tuesday's attendance was "all about the weather." Castellini: "April and September are the biggest challenges. It's dicey if you're out of it in September. The kids are back in school and that kind of stuff. May's a little bit tough, if you get a lot of rain. But it's mostly April and September that are the challenges when you haven't presold." Castellini said that the Reds have sold "about 11,000 full-season packages," and season-ticket sales are "up more than 30 percent over last year." Castellini: "We're happy with that. But there's room for improvement" (CINCINNATI.com, 4/6).

SLOWLY CATCHING ON? In Baltimore, Dan Connolly notes the announced attendance for last night's Tigers-Orioles game at Camden Yards was 12,451, despite the "buzz" from the sellout of Monday's home opener against the Tigers and the Orioles' "hot 4-0 start." The attendance for last night's game was up 20% "from the first Wednesday night game in 2010, when the announced crowd was 10,248" (Baltimore SUN, 4/7). Before last night's game, MASNSPORTS.com's Steve Melewski wrote, "Will the Orioles' 4-0 start and some of the buzz right now surrounding the club translate into more tickets sold at Camden Yards? For the next two nights, the answer to that question is probably 'No.'" An Orioles official said the team was expecting crowds of "between (the) low to mid-teens" for last night's and tonight's games against the Tigers. Melewski wrote there is "more buzz around this team, more people are watching on TV and more people are talking about the team around town." But he added, "It may take a while, certainly more than just four games and four wins, for that to be felt at the turnstiles" (MASNSPORTS.com, 4/6).

WIN AND THEY WILL COME: In Cleveland, Paul Hoynes notes Indians Exec VP/Business Dennis Lehman is "hopeful" the team "can reach at least 1.5 million in attendance this year" after drawing 1,391,644 last season. However, the crowd of 8,726 for Sunday's game against the White Sox marked the "smallest in the history of Progressive Field," and Hoynes wonders, "How do the Indians get the fans back following consecutive seasons of 97 and 93 losses?" Indians manager Manny Acta said, "Do I want to see the ballpark packed every day? Of course I do. But that's something I can't control. If we win, they'll come." Lehman: "I think our attendance will improve. We have to play well, but I like this team. Our promotional schedule starts to kick in at the end of this month" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/7).

GOOD SEATS STILL AVAILABLE: On Long Island, Anthony Rieber notes some "very good seats were still available" last night for the Mets' home opener against the Nationals tomorrow. A Mets spokesperson acknowledged that a "limited number of tickets were unsold but predicted the game will be sold out." The team's attendance "will be closely watched this season as club owners attempt to sell part of the team in the wake of the Bernie Madoff scandal" (NEWSDAY, 4/7).
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