46 home games with a total attendance of 1,698,759. If you divide B by A, carry one on the small toe of the left foot to the middle toe of the right foot……that’s about 36,929 per game. At that pace, the Cardinals should be right at the 3 million attendance mark by the end of the season. That’s a far cry from the 3,301,218 attendance mark from 2010. It’s convenient to blame the attendance downturn on a collection of negative catalysts – bad weather, global warming, yet another Transformers movie sequel, the US economy, Charlie Sheen, the Kardashians, and that last slice of pizza in the box. It’s too easy. Are there any other possible factors that we’re simply overlooking?
- Like it or not, there are some fans who attend games to see their favorite players. When those players aren’t playing, it’s possible that some of those fans stay away from the park. Losing Adam Wainwright to injury meant more than just losing a Cy Young-quality pitcher every 5th start. It also meant going without one of the franchise’s most marketable players.
- Although the media frenzy surrounding Albert Pujols and his contract situation has diminished greatly, that doesn’t mean that it didn’t leave a lasting impression. The fact that Albert hasn’t had a typical Pujolsian year also hasn’t helped much, either. Judging by the fan reaction to the negotiations, I think it likely that some fans are disappointed in Albert, the Cardinals, or both. There is an easy fix for this, but it may not come cheap. With that possibility comes even more potential public relations pitfalls for both parties.
- What about the quality of baseball being played? More specifically, what about the perception that the quality of baseball in the division isn’t all that great? After hearing all winter about how weak the NL Central would be, maybe some people who were on the fence about seeing a game decided that there were better things to do with their money. Too bad. If that’s the case, then they are missing out.
- Rumors of skyrocketing prices associated with dynamic pricing are greatly exaggerated. Actually, I haven’t seen any evidence of this. To the contrary, I’ve seen an awful lot of great deals. The Cardinals are making every effort to draw fans to Busch, and some of the deals are about as close to giving away good seats as you’ll find. Maybe the deals are just so good that people are keeping the information about them to themselves. Hoarders.
- The ticket price is often a fraction of the cost of attending a game. Cardinal Nation is large and spans something like 200+ nations, multiple solar systems, 14 galaxies, and at least 7 dimensions (or membranes according to M-theory). Actually, most fans who attend games come from something like 8 different states, and they aren’t all staying with in-laws. This makes attendance slightly sensitive to hotel prices and travel costs, and downtown St. Louis isn’t exactly stuffed full of Motel 8′s.
As if the weather and economy weren’t bad enough, it is conceivable that one or more of the ideas that I posited above is a factor as well. We might be talking about a family of 4 here and a group of 7 college friends stuffed in an Accord there, but it all adds up. There is only one way to prop up the attendance numbers – get out to more games. You’d rather be at a baseball game than at work, so take a sick day and catch an afternoon game. If you live close to downtown, please consider skipping that next dinner with the in-laws in favor of heading down to Busch. If you are planning on attending a game then try to fill up your car with co-workers, friends, and total strangers who you can convince to go with you. Sit in the cheap seats and don’t forget to tip the vendors. Thank me later.
TIDBIT: I realize that it’s a sacrifice to sit at a really nice baseball stadium while eating $17 nachos and watching the Cardinals play, but please do it for the children.
MORE BITS OF TID: The Cardinals are 14-14 in one run games this season with a total of 122 runs scored and 122 runs against in those 28 games.
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