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SBD/May 4, 2012/Franchises
Nationals Expect Increased Attendance With Strasburg, Harper On Field In DC
Published May 4, 2012
A NEW ERA: Feffer said of Strasburg and Harper playing together for the first time at Nationals Park on Friday night, "I think this is an important moment for our franchise." In DC, Barry Svrluga noted while the DC sports market has "long been dominated by the Redskins," Strasburg and Harper "would seem to give the Nationals an opportunity to finally create a little buzz of their own." However, for Harper's home debut on Tuesday, only "22,675 fans came to 41,000-seat Nationals Park." Feffer "cites a well-worn list of obstacles to selling mid-week tickets early in a baseball season." Feffer: "It's still a start-up. The biggest challenge, and probably the greatest opportunity, is building the fan base from the ground up. That takes time." The Nationals "have never drawn more fans" than in their debut year of '05. Feffer said that while the team's attendance is down this season, "advance sales are up" nearly 20%. Nationals SS Ian Desmond said, "I absolutely thought we'd see more (fans) this week. I thought when we were in first place, playing great baseball early on, they'd start coming out. ... We've got to play better as players and continue to show them it's not a fluke" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/3).
GET OFF MY LAWN: In Philadelphia, Mark Kram writes, "Seems the Nationals have grown weary of seeing Nationals Park overrun with Phillies fans whenever the NL East defending champs swing through Washington." Kram writes the Nationals plan to only allow tickets to be sold to fans in its home market "does have a hint of desperation to it." Phillies fans "are a presence throughout baseball whenever the team plays outside of Philadelphia, not just Washington." Phillies VP/Sales & Ticket Operations John Weber said, "Our fan support at Citizens Bank Park and on the road has been incredible." Given how "tough a ticket the Phillies have been at home -- Citizens Bank Park has had 214 consecutive sellouts -- it is not surprising that fans follow the team on the road" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/4).