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September 18, 2002

The Daily Prospectus

Bud and Carl: Visionaries?

by Gary Huckabay

I wonder if I write any better when God's Percussionist is within 800 feet of my house... probably not, but it can't hurt.

Got hit with an interesting question yesterday; how come people aren't coming out to see the Minnesota Twins? Didn't Carl Pohlad and Bud Selig basically state that due to the inherent limitations of the Twin Cities as a generator of local broadcast revenue, the Twins should be contracted? Fans and pundits quickly responded with "Hey, put a winning team out there, poindexter, and the fans'll show up."

Well, the Twins did their part, blowing the AL Central open like a 30.06 round through an overripe cantaloupe. The Twins have been successful and exciting. Have the fans held up their end of the bargain?

Here's the attendance at the HHH dome since the All-Star Break:

Thu. 11 Texas 18,144 
Fri. 12 Texas 25,804 
Sat. 13 Texas 28,352 
Sun. 14 Texas 22,610 
Mon. 15 Anaheim 19,189 
Tue. 16 Anaheim 26,258 
Fri. 26 Toronto 25,049 
Sat. 27 Toronto 40,306 
Sun. 28 Toronto 30,554 
Tue. 30 Chicago 27,391 
Wed. 31 Chicago 29,478 

August 
Thu. 1 Chicago 26,270 
Fri. 2 Kansas City 23,230 
Sat. 3 Kansas City 32,567 
Sun. 4 Kansas City 35,641 
Mon. 5 Kansas City 27,281 
Tue. 13 Baltimore 20,268 
Wed. 14 Baltimore 28,488 
Thu. 15 Baltimore 20,471 
Fri. 16 Boston 35,824 
Sat. 17 Boston 43,345 
Sun. 18 Boston 37,196 
Tue. 27 Seattle 28,660 
Wed. 28 Seattle 31,414 
Thu. 29 Seattle 29,325 

September
Fri. 6 Oakland 27,409 
Sat. 7 Oakland 43,628 
Sun. 8 Oakland 20,102 
Mon. 9 Detroit 11,684 
Tue. 10 Detroit 12,408 
Wed. 11 Detroit 13,106 

That's an average of 27,144 per game since the break. Not bad, but not earthshaking by any means. Over the course of a full season, if that's an average gate, total attendance would be right at 2.2 million for the season.

Success on the field definitely drives attendance, and hence revenue, but there does appear to be a lag time. It's a demanding cycle at the very least. Succeed now, and you'll be rewarded with increased season ticket sales for next year, but if you crap out early next season, attendance during the second half will almost certainly be nothing shy of dismal. In short, it takes patience and sustained effort to get those fans in the door. Even when you succeed on the field, there are marketing efforts that need to be made, and a lag time before you actually see the cash. But if you start to decline, people will bail out quickly, and you have to pay the price to get them back again.

Some of the depression in attendance is almost certainly due to the labor clouds that hung over the horizon for much of the year. Hopefully, with a boost in performance, a new emphasis on promoting the game, and no threat of a work stoppage, teams like the Twins, A's, and Angels will see an increase in attendance and revenue next season. I'd love to see each of those clubs draw 3 million people to the park. Hopefully, with careful attention to pricing optimization, and a full accounting of the lifetime value of a customer, we'll see a new golden age of baseball attendance.

Of course, the Twins may be at a disadvantage because of the need to schedule the Tigers a bunch of times, but no system's perfect.

Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Gary's other articles. You can contact Gary by clicking here

Related Content:  Attendance,  Minnesota Twins

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