The Major League Baseball season is well underway. But you wouldn’t know it by the lack of bodies filling the seats at big league ballparks.
As the first month of play winds down, MLB teams are facing some sobering stats when it comes to attendance. Across the board, from D.C. to NYC, stadium seats sit unoccupied. And it seems that even shiny new ballparks aren’t incentive enough for fans to want to be taken out the ballgame.
SIMON ON SPORTS reports about attending their first game at the new Yankee Stadium. And what really stood out for them wasn’t the decor or the quality of play on the field - but how empty the stands were (as shown in the photo above):
The most glaring hole is section 11 in the middle. This field level section AT MOST had TWO PEOPLE in it the entire game. Those two people were there from the third inning to the 7th inning. When I walked down to field level to get food, Section 29 which are essentially the same seats but on left field line HAD 3 PEOPLE IN THEM. Between two premium sections with a great view of the game there were FIVE PEOPLE. I felt like I was at a Pirates game.
SOS blames a lot of that empty feeling on the fact that the Yankees are charging way too much for their tickets. Heck, we could have told you that.
But it’s not just the Big Apple that’s having big problems. The Cleveland Indians, who’ve had great fan support in one of nicest parks in baseball, recently reached a new low.
From the HARRISBURG (PA) PATRIOT NEWS:
A crowd of 11,408 attended last night’s Royals-Indians game, the smallest crowd in the 16-year history of Progressive Field, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The game was played opposite Game Two of the Pistons-Cavaliers Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, which was held at Quicken Loans Arena. In Ohio, Chris Assenheimer of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram noted thats the crowd at Progressive Field “looked like 5,000 at best.”
And as far as SOS’s earlier opinion about their Yankees trip feeling like a Pirates game?
In Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic of the Post-Gazette wrote that the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday at PNC Park drew a paid attendance of 8,790 for their game against the Marlins, the “sixth-smallest” paid attendance in park history. But the “actual turnstile count was roughly 4,500.”
At least the Marlins must have felt comfortable playing to a crowd size that reminded them of their own home park.
So, what’s causing such anemic attendance? Part of it is people aren’t so willing to fork over $100 a game when their own personal finances have been ruined by a bad economy. Plus, the weather hasn’t been so cooperative. And it didn’t help matters that most of the season openers were held in northern climates, where threats of snowouts were a bit too common.
Does this mean the end of professional baseball? Of course not. When the weather gets warmer & school’s out of session, more folks will make their way out to the ballparks. But it teams wants these fans to come back, maybe some price reductions might encourage folks to keep their wallet open for a little while longer.