Nationals, Marlins Among Teams Struggling To Draw Fans This Season
Fans "just aren't showing up at Nationals Park at the rates of recent years," as through 30 home games this season, attendance is "down 1,899 fans per game" compared to last year, according to Barry Svrluga of the WASHINGTON POST. The Nationals' average crowd of 27,834 is the "lowest -- either through 30 home games or over the entire season" -- since '11. Nationals Exec VP/Business Operations Jake Burns said that attendance is "dependent on a litany of factors: the team's performance, the weather, whether a bobblehead is handed out, etc." But he added that this drop from last year's full-season average of 31,230 was "predictable for two additional reasons." First, the Nationals "hosted the All-Star Game" last July, which "usually leads to an increase in overall attendance." Also, Burns said '18 was a "season of very high expectations that weren't necessarily met." Svrluga notes the Nationals are "hardly unique" in seeing an attendance drop. The team is one of 19 MLB franchises whose "numbers are down from the same point a year ago." In 15 seasons, the Nationals have "never cracked MLB's top 10 in attendance." The team has "never drawn more than the 2.73 million who filed into RFK Stadium" in '05, the summer MLB "returned to town." Burns said that the club is "reacting to public input by offering 'flexibility and affordability,' ways for fans to buy seats at multiple games for discounts and with the ability to choose from a variety of dates" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/13).
FISH FLOPPING: In Ft. Lauderdale, Wells Dusenbury noted through 34 home games, the Marlins are "averaging a league-worst 9,326 fans" -- down 6.9% from last season. While attendance has "dipped 1.9% league-wide, the Marlins are outpacing that clip" by 5%. The Marlins have "drawn over 10,000 fans just nine times" this season. The Marlins are "hoping the figures will steadily climb as they attempt to win over the local community." A number of MLB's "established organizations have experienced even larger drops from last season." The Tigers (-25%), Orioles (-20%), Royals (-15%) and Pirates (-7.6%) "rank near the bottom in attendance this year" (South Florida SUN SENTINEL, 6/13).