Gimme Those Digits

by on May 4, 2011 · 7 comments

No, not THOSE digits.  I want the other ones….the attendance figures.  Why?  Just curious.  After watching several games, I couldn’t help but feel like the numbers were just a little low.  Was I wrong, or was there a shortage of live bodies in the seats?  (NOTE: I’m in no way implying that there were anything BUT live bodies in the seats.  No “Weekend at Bernies” thing going on in Busch.)

Check the numbers for the first 14 home games from 2010 and 2011 for yourselves, though:

  1. 46,918 – 46,368
  2. 35,883 – 38,527
  3. 35,371 – 36,414
  4. 40,101 – 32,007
  5. 43,709 – 33,666
  6. 40,007 – 34,965
  7. 35,257 – 32,340
  8. 35,587 – 33,714
  9. 35,693 – 36,160
  10. 39,561 – 40,327
  11. 39,850 – 41,877
  12. 41,536 – 38,201
  13. 43,292 – 32,635
  14. 35,875 – 32,689
  • 2010 through 14 home games:  548,640
  • 2011 through 14 home games:  509,890

If you extrapolate or just guesstimate using something called a calculator, you can come up with an estimate of 3,174,274 for 2010 and 2,950,078 for 2011.  Of course, 2010 finished up at 3,301,208, and the attendance jump can be primarily attributed to a huge jump in average paid attendance for August and early September.  During that time, the Cardinals hosted the Pirates, Astros, Cubs, Brewers, Reds, and Giants. 

Logically (perhaps assumptively), the Cardinals can expect a similar attendance bump due to summer vacation, NL rivals coming to town, improved weather (hopefully), and what I hope is a playoff chase.  The question right now is “Should the Cardinals be worried that they aren’t on track to hit the 3.3M attendance mark?” 


TIDBIT:  If you haven’t seen “Weekend at Bernies”, then please do yourself a favor and rent it.  If you have seen it, then please consider dressing up like Bernie next Halloween and having 2 friends push you around all evening.  Seriously.  The adults will get it, although some of the younger adults will probably be thinking “head shot”.

MORE BITS OF TID:  You could very well blame the attendance figures on the level of interest in the teams coming to town.  So far, the Cardinals have hosted the Padres, Pirates, Nationals, Reds, and Marlins.  However, the first homestands of 2010 started with the Astros, Braves, Mets, Reds, and the Astros again.  I’d argue to some extent that there is a qualitative difference in terms of interest level, but I don’t think that it explains the difference in attendance figures.  Of course, interleague play against a team like Toronto might be a game changer this season, so all this nail-biting might be for nothing.

Like it?  Wondering how low attendance can support a “leaking payroll”?  Follow gr33nazn on Twitter, and we’ll all crunch the numbers!

Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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Otter May 4, 2011

Well, they covered this exact topic on the StL Post site, and I think it comes down to terrible weather, MUCH lower economic figures than last year, and bad draw opponents. The Birds figures are still much less of a drop-off than other teams, including the Yankees.

Dennis May 4, 2011

Thanks for the feedback, Otter. Someone forwarded me the link to the page today, and I must say that I was a little surprised by the responses there. I’ll agree that weather may be playing a role, but I disagree about the opponents being a big factor.

Sunday of opening weekend with Garcia starting, and the Cardinals can’t draw 38-40k against the Padres? C’mon! The Marlins (9th in runs scored) were tied with the Phillies for best record in the NL until last night. Bad draw? If people want to call it a bad draw, then they are just looking for an excuse to stay home.

Yes, the Cardinals are experiencing a smaller dropoff than some other teams, but the absolute is more of an issue to them than the relative. Some of the other teams can afford the revenue hit that comes with dropoff.

Otter May 4, 2011

Attendance figures to date for various clubs in 2011 compared to 2010:
Cardinals = -3.5%
Phillies = -1%
Yankees = -6%
Colorado = -4%
Marlins = -8%
Cubs = -7%
Mets = -7%
Dodgers = -12%
Tigers = -15%

Maybe we should be congratulating fans for sticking with their team moreso than other clubs?

Dennis May 4, 2011

Yeah, I wouldn’t jump so quickly to that conclusion, though. If you want to really make a complete study of it, I’d try to include fiscal factors like unemployment rate, underemployment rate, changes in average household income, changes in per capita income, average ticket prices, and average ticket prices on tickets being sold. In addition to those factors, I’d cross-reference weather data for a few of those teams just out of curiosity.

Since 14 games represent about 1/6 of the home games in a regular season, I’m content to wait another 14 to see if the trend changes or not. I’m hopeful that it does change in a big way and that warmer weather brings regular 44k+ attendance days to Busch.

PH8 May 4, 2011

I think it’s important to note that SOME seemingly superficial factor is keeping folks away, because the numbers listed above don’t come close to reflecting the actual crowds either.

So is it safe to assume that the same factors keeping the folks who have already paid, per the numbers above, away is also keeping away walk-ups and late purchasers?

I’ve seen plenty of folks saying they’ve gotten great deals late either via dynamic pricing or the secondary market, so there has to be SOMETHING else at play here.

Otter May 4, 2011

Okay, here’s the numbers above with a few Economic Indicators added. I couldn’t find current solid numbers for average household income, though.

City/ Team/ Attendance +/- Unemployment/ 1Yr +/- Avg Ticket Cost/ 1Yr +/- FCI/ 1Yr +/-

St. Louis Cardinals -3.5% 9.3% -1.5% $31.17 3.4% $223.18 3.1%
Chicago Cubs -7.0% 8.9% -2.3% $46.90 -1.2% $305.60 -1.2%
Denver Rockies -4.0% 9.3% -0.4% $19.50 0.0% $161.00 0.0%
Detroit Tigers -15.0% 11.8% -3.3% $29.32 10.3% $207.28 19.9%
Los Angeles Dodgers -12.0% 11.4% -0.4% $30.59 -0.8% $226.36 -0.9%
Philidelphia Phillies -1.0% 8.5% -0.9% $36.29 10.0% $240.66 5.8%
New York City Yankees -6.0% 8.4% 1.0% $51.83 0.0% $338.32 7.0%
New York City Mets -7.0% 8.4% 1.0% $31.81 -1.3% $241.74 6.5%

National Avg n/a 8.8% -0.9% $26.91 1.2% $197.36 2.0%

What really jumps out is that Detroit’s large economic revival is counteracted by a LARGE increase in ticket prices and FCI. Really, one of the largest jumps in the nation on both, but none of the other numbers really seem to correlate that well to one indicator.

Dennis May 5, 2011

Interesting stuff. I wouldn’t expect any one particular indicator to jump off the page on something like this. The most relevant comparisons would probably be between teams that play in the same city, so the similarities between the Mets and Yankees somewhat support Nick’s supposition that a superficial factor is in play.

The one consistent component that does come to mind is the relatively high unemployment rate that has by now taken a significant toll on so many households in America. By now there is probably a secondary effect in which people who are still employed are more cautious about discretionary spending. Even though the year-over-year unemployment numbers may not be greatly changed, the numbers may not be indicative of the people hoarding cash or choosing to spend it elsewhere (home improvements, tangible assets).

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