Dodgers See Big Attendance Drop At Camelback Ranch Through First 10 Games
Dodgers attendance has “plummeted this spring,” according to Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. TIMES. The team is averaging 6,645 fans through 10 games at Camelback Ranch, down 42.3% compared to a record 11,589 in 17 games at the facility last year. The 13,000-seat ballpark is a “step away from embarrassing when it’s less than half full, which it often has been this spring.” Dilbeck wrote, “Maybe the Arizona novelty for Dodgers fans has worn off. Maybe it’s a result of a losing season or a state hit hard by the recession. Or just possibly, it’s a weariness with ownership.” Attendance throughout the Cactus League is “down significantly, and in spring training in general.” MLB attendance this spring “has fallen an average of 1,309 a game, or 17.2%.” The Dodgers said that attendance in the Arizona area “has been particularly hit” because the Rockies and D’Backs opened Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Glendale. Dodgers VP/PR & Broadcasting Josh Rawitch: "There’s no doubt that adding two more teams to the Phoenix area, including the Diamondbacks whose hometown fans are several hours closer to spring training, has had an impact around the whole league" (LATIMES.com, 3/18). MLB.com’s Scott Merkin noted MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday “preached patience in regard to Cactus League attendance.” Selig: "Everybody tells me, 'Let's see how we do in the last 10 days.' Now spring vacation is here and the crowds yesterday were very good all over. There's no way to really forecast that. They still think they can come very close to last year. We'll see if that's true.” Selig said, "Business is up from last year. Ticket business is up. I feel good about this year. I have a goal in mind which is a substantial increase over last year.” He added, “For the most part, ticket sales have been really good and all sales have been good. I think we'll set records in a number of areas" (MLB.com, 3/20).
WEST COAST BIAS: Nationals Owner Mark Lerner said that his team is “actively exploring options in both Florida and Arizona” for a new Spring Training facility. In DC, Adam Kilgore noted team officials “have been touring potential sites on the west coast of Florida and in Arizona since last season.” The Nationals “believe the dearth of teams on the east coast of Florida," where their current home Viera is located, and the "distance between sites has made for an untenable travel schedule.” The Nationals “would prefer to build their own, new stadium.” Lerner said that team officials have “already consulted an architect and begun making plans for their own spring stadium” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/20). In Boston, Peter Abraham notes the Nationals are “not pleased with training in remote Viera on the east coast of the state” and have toured the Red Sox' facility in City of Palms "but would prefer to have a new facility.” Lerner: “We do have a problem here. … Our problem is basically logistics. Our closest game is 120-mile round trip. We cannot do that. It’s tiring” (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/21).